Photo by Maskmedicare Shop on Unsplash

Disability rights groups and parents of disabled children filed a federal lawsuit Aug. 24 challenging the South Carolina budget proviso that bans school districts from requiring masks in schools.

The groups and parents are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina and other legal groups. The lawsuit argues that the enforcement of the proviso places students, teachers and staff, as well as their families, at risk. In addition, the suit claims, the measure particularly targets children with disabilities that put them at higher risk for severe illness, lingering disabilities, or even death due to COVID-19.

“Students with health conditions or disabilities that make them vulnerable to COVID have a right to attend school without endangering their health or safety,” Susan Mizner, director of the ACLU’s disability rights program, said in a press release. “Schools who have children with these conditions have legal obligations under federal disability rights laws.”

The complaint lists state officials, including Gov. Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson and Superintendent Molly Spearman, as well as school districts in Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Lexington, Oconee, Dorchester and Pickens counties.

Charleston is among the districts that have passed mask requirements that have triggered legal threats from Wilson. But as protesters yelled about the mandates outside the district’s Tuesday meeting, leaders backtracked, saying no requirements will be enforced in local schools.

A full copy of the formal complaint can be read at

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