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State seeks temporary injunction against Lufkin ISD, Diboll ISD mask mandate

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:09 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The fight over mask mandates between the State of Texas and Lufkin and Diboll school districts has hit the courtroom.

It began Monday afternoon in an Angelina County district courtroom. Attorneys argued back and forth over the merits of temporarily prohibiting the school districts from enforcing its mask mandates.

Attorneys representing the state of Texas and school district attorneys representing Lufkin and Diboll ISDs were expected at the temporary injunction hearing.

In Lufkin, there were also some of a group of nine parents and faculty. They adamantly oppose mask mandates. So much so, that they hired Houston attorney Jared Woodfield to file a separate motion. It’s called a petition of intervention. If granted it would allow them to enter today’s legal battle.

“My client’s beliefs are exactly consistent with what the governor’s position is here,” said Woodfield. “And so, they’re asking and trying to hold the school board accountable, the superintendent accountable and make sure she follows the law.”

Lufkin parent Courtney Thompson doesn’t want her 11-year son wearing a mask for respiratory reasons. She’s homeschooled her fifth grader since early September. More so, Thompson says, she doesn’t like being told she has to wear a mask.

“That’s taking choice away from the parents that don’t want the mandate,” said Thompson. “No one was ever told that their child could not wear a mask, but now we’re being told that if our child does not wear a mask they cannot attend.”

School district attorneys say the parents and staff arguments don’t belong in the temporary injunction hearing.

“We have nine additional parties. But where does it end,” said Stephanie Hamm before Judge Bob Inselman. “There are plenty of parents in this district who support the mask requirement and have an interest in keeping it. Do we let them in as well.”

The judge made no decision today. He will fulfill his duties and continue to hear arguments at a later date. Experience tells him the overall arguments will be heard by higher courts, such as the Texas Supreme Court or even the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court recessed shortly after five o’clock. On Thursday, a date will be selected for yet another court date.

Later this week Lufkin ISD school board is scheduled to meet. The 45-day mask mandate comes to an end on Friday. The board or administration will decide if it will be reenacted.

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