face masks

Palo Alto School District Faces Lawsuit Over Mask Policy

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A family is suing the Palo Alto Unified School District over its mask policy.

The lawsuit says a father enrolled his son in a summer program. When the student didn't wear a mask on the first day of summer school, he was sent to the office, the lawsuit says.

The father says his son has a disability and the mask makes him unable to pronounce words correctly.

The student, whose name is not disclosed in the lawsuit, is set to become a senior this fall at Palo Alto High School but is taking summer school to earn credits towards graduation, according to the Palo Alto Weekly.

The lawsuit claims the school district said it would make mask exemptions on a case by case basis due to health reasons, but the district, according to the Palo Alto Weekly, says it found the student was removed from the special education program back in 2018 and no longer needed speech language therapy.

The student could wear a face shield with a drape and socially distance to be in compliance.

Meanwhile, school districts statewide are trying to determine how to deal with these types of cases come fall.

The state this week required all students, even those vaccinated, to wear masks at school but is allowing districts to decide how to implement the plan.

No social distancing will be required in schools.

Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin released the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

Our team is working diligently after just receiving the detailed information about Independent Study expectations for next year. That requires our full attention...The father in this case is also the attorney. He is a patent attorney by profession.  He had previous issues regarding masks and chose not to comply during 8th grade promotion in June. That was for his family in the stands. The father was offered numerous opportunities to work with the staff, like families have done for the last year and a half. His son does not have an IEP, 504, or any documentation of a qualifying disability. Additionally, the father turned down an offer for an assessment. The student has predominately Honors and AP classes. We expect people unhappy with masking laws to file lawsuits across the state and country. This lawsuit seems misdirected. PAUSD, like all school districts, is following the rules set at the state and county levels by health professionals. We have followed the rules from Day 1 and will continue to follow them in the future. If the rules change at some point in time, we will follow immediately. 

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