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With a series of graphs, Cobb County School District Superintendent Chris Ragsdale shared at a Board of Education meeting Sept. 24, he argued the district has fared no worse than those that have mandated mask-wearing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and two metro Atlanta law firms have sued the Cobb County School District, arguing its mask-optional policy and other coronavirus protocols "unlawfully denies students with disabilities access to a safe, in-person learning environment."

The plaintiffs are four district students with disabilities, each between 7 and 15 years old. 

The lawsuit names as defendants the district, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and all seven members of the district's Board of Education. 

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia’s Atlanta Division, is seeking an emergency court order that would require the district to "immediately begin implementing CDC guidelines for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools."

When reached by phone Friday evening, board Chairman Randy Scamihorn declined to comment, saying it was a legal matter. District spokeswoman Nan Kiel did not immediately return an email Friday seeking comment.

The coronavirus is most deadly for the elderly and those with preexisting health issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The plaintiffs argue that anything less than CDC-recommended protocols puts their lives at risk and forces them into substandard virtual classes, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The latter "prohibits government entities from denying individuals with disabilities equal access to public benefits and services," according to a news release from the SPLC.

In the 2020-2021 school year, the school district followed CDC protocols, among them the requirement that all students wear masks in school buildings.

Ahead of the 2021-2022 school year, Ragsdale announced the district would give parents and students the option of wearing masks, while maintaining or tweaking other coronavirus protocols. 

But a surge in new infections spurred by the delta variant led to calls for Ragsdale to reinstate a mask mandate and protests — as well as counter protests — outside the district's Marietta headquarters. 

In September, the Cobb Board of Health called an "emergency meeting" at which it voted to recommend universal masking in county schools. 

Undeterred, Ragsdale gave a lengthy presentation at the Sept. 24 meeting of the Cobb Board of Education, arguing that data show the school district has fared no better or worse during the pandemic than neighboring districts with and without mask mandates. 

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(5) comments

CRAIG BARFIELD

Typical stance from SPLC who has become a partison hack for the Democrat party. Cobb County officials followed the data on masks and a way to provide in person learning. If the disabled students wear masks they should be protected according to the CDC. This is social manipulation and control at its finest. The CDC first told us to stay home 2 weeks to "stop the surge". Then they told us that vaccines will prevent the spread of the virus. They told us masks and social distancing stops the spread. They told us the vaccinated will not be able to get covid. Most of these have proven to be inaccurate are blatantly false. The CDC should stick to following the data and not political manipulation that just makes people feel good. Leave the kids alone and let their parents do what is best for them.

Michelle Stone

Suing the Cobb County School District is a great use of taxpayer money for the children! Nobody is keeping any of these plaintiff children from receiving services. Plus numbers of Covid-19 among the CC Schools have been declining steadily since schools opened--without a mask mandate. This is a political witchhunt that will benefit no one but the lawyers.

Mike Nelson

This is the arm of the Democratic Party. Accomplish nothing just cost every taxpayer money. Another pathetic organization. Similar to the 3 democratic members of the school board.

William Hicks

I hope the School Board votes to countersue. Name all the parents and every member of the SPLC. Seek damages and attorney fees.

David Glass

Ragsdale can just bring his manipulated statistics chart to Court. Problem solved...wait; maybe that chart won't stand up to a cross examination. You wouldn't be slamming the SPLC if one of those kids were your child.

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