OC School Board Votes To Sue Newsom Over Mask Rule For Students

(CBS Los Angeles) The Orange County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom over the state’s mandate that K-12 students must wear masks indoors for the upcoming school year.

During a special meeting, the board voted to challenge the governor’s ongoing assertion of emergency rule-making powers due to the coronavirus pandemic, specifically the school mask mandate issued last month.

“When necessary, the board will fight to protect the health, safety and welfare of our county’s kids at school. Unfortunately, with the governor’s most recent action to force Orange County’s children, even those as young as 5 and 6 years old, to endure an academic year covering their faces for hours on end, the time to fight has come again,” the board said in a statement on its website.

“Putting aside for the moment the lack of a sound medical or scientific basis for the governor’s requirement to mask school children — who in general are neither at risk from COVID-19 nor likely to spread it — and also putting aside the lack of any thoughtful, well-considered and transparent balancing of the substantial harms of forced masking of juveniles against the purported benefits, the governor and his state-level executive agencies do not have the power to continue the state of emergency indefinitely, and to continue to suspend the Administrative Procedure Act to circumvent normal agency rule making requirements,” the statement continues. “Indeed, the California Emergency Services Act (Cal. Gov’t Code Sec. 8629) requires the governor to `proclaim the termination of a state of emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant.’”

“On June 11, 2021, the governor announced that actions of Californians over the prior 15 months ‘had successfully curbed the spread of COVID-19,’ and he rescinded his `stay-at-home’ order. But while conditions clearly warrant the end of the state of emergency, and the governor effectively has announced as much, the governor has refused to give up his emergency powers. And he has now misused that power in a way that threatens serious harm to Orange County’s children.”

Newsom’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Doctor Ken Williams was one of the board members that voted “yes.”

“We’re not saying not to wear masks, we’re just saying give options to parents,” Williams said. “These kids, if you look at the data, they are not the ones that are the vectors nor are they the ones that are dying from this disease.”

Local moth Brittany Barney was worried at the possibility of children not wearing masks because her son is too young to get the vaccine. She is against the lawsuit.

“I kind of think it’s ridiculous,” she said. “I think everybody should be able to say whether they want to or they don’t want to, however, for me personally, I want to be as protected as possible.”

Meanwhile, another mother, Jacqueline Banholzer said, “I don’t like it. I don’t think [my son] needs it. I understand it for the teachers and stuff but not for the kids.”

Individual school districts across Orange County set the rules for masking on campus.

Santa Ana, Newport Mesa and Irvine Unified are just some of the school districts requiring masks indoors for students and staff.

Because the Orange County Board of Education has no jurisdiction over local schools, the outcome of a lawsuit won’t impact the current mask mandate.

Orange County taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill for the litigation brought by the board. Members found a lawyer to fight the mask mandate pro bono.