Knox County Schools agrees to mask lawsuit settlement

Federal Judge Ronnie Greer ordered a “stay” on the lawsuit that resulted in a universal mask mandate in KCS.
Federal Judge Ronnie Greer ordered a “stay” on the lawsuit that resulted in a universal mask mandate in KCS.
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 2:30 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Both sides of the lawsuit between Knox County Schools and the parents of three students met Monday morning to enter mediation discussions regarding the ongoing mask mandate in the Knox County Schools system. After almost seven hours of discussing, the two groups came to an agreement on settling the suit.

The lawsuit was filed in September of last year. The plaintiffs sued the school system and Gov. Bill Lee, saying their at-risk children, who were particularly susceptible to COVID-19, needed a mask mandate to safely attend school. The parents cited the Americans with Disabilities Act in the suit, arguing that their children have a right to a safe learning environment. Federal Judge Ronnie Greer oversaw the case, and implemented a temporary mask mandate for KCS through an injunction in September, which was still in place as of mid-April.

Judge Greer ordered that both parties in the case had 60 days from March 7 to enter the mediation process and solve the dispute, prompting the KCS Board of Education to host the session, which began at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Sarah Simpson Professional Development Technology Center.

Previously, the plaintiffs filed a motion to modify the injunction to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although Knox County remained in the high-risk category then, it has now been downgraded to low risk.

In the end, the Board of Education agreed to pay the plaintiffs $145 thousand for legal fees on the condition that they drop the lawsuit and admit no wrongdoing on the part of the Board of Education.

The board also said they want to split the mediation fees three ways between the board, state and the plaintiffs.

Read the mediation order below:

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