‘There’s a lot of case law and none of it is on point’: Williamson Co. judge hears more arguments on RRISD mask mandate

Education

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — A Williamson County judge heard arguments in the 425th District Court heard arguments for the second time on a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton against Round Rock ISD over its mask mandate.

Inside the 425th district court on Wednesday, there were century-old case laws passed back and forth between both the State of Texas and Round Rock ISD.

Over a handful of Round Rock ISD parents against the mask mandate and in support of the State of Texas showed up.

“I’m feeling more optimistic than last time,” said Michelle Evans. “I think the state made a good case for the authority, and the law across Texas of what the disaster act allows the governor to do.”

While she’s remaining optimistic about the court’s decision, Evans fears vaccine mandates are next on the horizon as FDA advisers back Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for young kids.

Round Rock ISD VS. State of Texas convenes on mask mandate hearing. KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout
Round Rock ISD VS. State of Texas convenes on mask mandate hearing. KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout

“The school district is already arguing that they have the authority to make vaccine requirements, which I believe is only statutory under the legislature,” said Evans.

For nearly three hours on Wednesday, the State of Texas worked to reinstate control over Round Rock ISD as they seek a temporary injunction.

“The suit is not being brought on behalf of the Attorney General, it’s being brought on behalf of the State of Texas,” said Will Wassdorf, Attorney Representing the State of Texas.

There are three things the State of Texas must prove in order to be granted an injunction; a likely claim, that it has the ability to be successful and reparable harm.

Watson used GA38 during his arguments which prohibits government officials from requiring a face mask to prove the state’s case.

Round Rock ISD argued local control under the Texas Education Code is preemptive.

“The state’s argument was that they have the ability to bring this suit to protect the public’s interest, however, unlike other states, that’s not the authority of the Texas Attorney General’s office,” said Katherine Long, Round Rock ISD Attorney.

The hearing began at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, where Judge Betsy Figer Lambeth made it clear the case being argued is not about the science but which government official has the legal authority.

However, she closed by saying her decision must take time since this is all a very slippery slope.

“I think we can all agree that it’s in everyone’s best interest that we have an orderly response, but again, we have to be very careful when we grant such broad authority to one person, even a good person,” said Judge Betsy Figer Lambeth.

There was ultimately no decision on Wednesday, but Judge Lambeth plans to process and present a ruling in the coming days.

“There’s quite a bit of case law and none of it is exactly on point,” said Lambeth.

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