Gov. Lee’s office files appeal in Knox County Schools masking case

Gov. Lee’s office has responded to a court order suspending an executive order allowing parents to opt children out of masking mandates.
Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:59 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 2:07 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The federal court that ordered Knox County Schools to enforce a mask mandate and legal representatives with the office of Gov. Bill Lee have submitted further filings in the Knox County Schools masking case.

The first filing, submitted by the court, further outlines the expectations of Judge Ronnie Greer in the masking mandate. The new filing specifically calls out and prohibits the Board of Education’s decision to not establish a mask mandate. It also forbids Gov. Lee for enforcing his executive order allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates.

“Governor Lee is hereby ENJOINED from enforcing Executive Order No. 84 in Knox County or allowing parents in Knox County to opt out of the Knox County Board of Education’s mask mandate,” the filing said.

Gov. Lee took to Twitter late last month to say he planned to take legal action against courts that block his executive order, and it looks like that process has begun. A legal representative for Gov. Lee submitted an appeal against the order shortly after, asking the court to stay its decision while Gov. Lee’s appeal remains pending.

“Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(d), the Court should stay its grant of a preliminary injunction while the Governor’s appeal of the injunction remains pending,” the filing said.

Gov. Lee’s office’s filing also calls out the court, claiming it has no legal authority to order the mandate and annul the executive order.

“In short, the Court abused its discretion by relying on an erroneous legal standard and improperly applying the relevant law to find that Plaintiffs were entitled to a preliminary injunction, and the Court should stay the injunction pending the Governor’s appeal,” the filing said.

The court order establishes the same mask mandate in Knox County Schools that was in place for the 2020-2021 school year with some exceptions. Last year’s mandate allowed staff and students to file for an exception to the mandate if they had a written reason from their doctor. Now, the Knox County Board of Education must submit monthly reports on who is exempt from masking and why to the court.

Gov. Lee spoke on the ruling Thursday morning while visiting Scott County. He spoke on the court’s decision to stop him from enforcing Executive Order 84 in Knox County.

“I think that parents should be the ultimate deciders in the health and wellbeing decisions of their children,” he said. “That’s the law, this judge has ruled against that. We will appeal that ruling and continue to pursue freedom for parents.”

Gov. Lee then reiterated the importance of vaccines and urged people to get vaccinated.

Gov. Lee’s filing can be read in full here:

Filing by WVLT News on Scribd

The court’s filing can be read in full here:

Filing by WVLT News on Scribd

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