ARIZONA NEWS

Teacher sues Valley school district over face mask mandate

Aug 3, 2021, 3:44 PM | Updated: 9:27 pm
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)...
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Union High School District)

PHOENIX — A teacher is suing the Phoenix Union High School District over its decision to implement a mask mandate when classes began Monday for the fall semester.

Douglas Hester, a biology teacher at Metro Tech High School, said in the lawsuit the mask requirement goes against state law.

A law passed as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget bans mask mandates in Arizona — including in schools — and is retroactive to June 30.

“Regardless of where you come down on the mask issue, that’s not the question,” Alexander Kolodin, Hester’s attorney, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday. “The question is once the Legislature has made a law, does the government have to follow it?”

Phoenix Union Superintendent Chad Geston argued Friday the district went against the law in an effort to keep students in classrooms, a sentiment reiterated Tuesday in response to the lawsuit.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Arizona due to the prevalence of the delta variant.

“We stand behind our decision to require masks at this time, and remain steadfast in our commitment to do all we can to protect our staff, students, families and broader community,” the district said in a statement.

Gov. Doug Ducey hasn’t taken action against Phoenix Union or other districts who have defied the law, including the Phoenix Elementary School District.

Ducey’s office said districts who buck the law have no merit.

“Gov. Ducey believes the decision by Phoenix Union requiring masks has no teeth. It’s not allowed under Arizona law. It’s unenforceable,” Ducey’s office said in a statement to KTAR News on Friday. “Arizona is not anti-mask, we’re anti-mask mandate.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

Arizona News

(Pixabay photo)...
Griselda Zetino

Wet monsoon in Arizona brings record-high season for West Nile virus

This year’s wet monsoon in Arizona has created the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos, and that’s leading to a record-high season for the West Nile virus.
6 hours ago
(SRP photo)...
KTAR.com

SRP’s largest solar power plant in Arizona to be developed northwest of Flagstaff

Arizona public utility Salt River Project announced Wednesday the company's largest solar plant in the state will be developed northwest of Flagstaff.
6 hours ago
A mechanic works on replacing a catalytic converter in Davie, Florida, in this 2009 file photo. (Ph...
Kevin Stone

Mesa police make 3 arrests in battle against catalytic converter thefts

Mesa police said Wednesday they are working to combat a rise in catalytic converter thefts, with an undercover operation resulting in three arrests so far.
6 hours ago
Hans Hughes (Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors photo)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix ambassador dies after being struck by alleged drunk driver in August

A member of the Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors died Tuesday after being struck by an alleged drunk driver in August, Downtown Phoenix Inc. said.
6 hours ago
(Oktoberfest at the Fountain Photos)...
KTAR.com

Oktoberfest in September? Raise glasses this weekend in Fountain Hills

It's still September, but the annual Fountain Hills Oktoberfest celebration is on tap for Friday and Saturday night in Fountain Hills.
6 hours ago
FILE - In this June 5, 2020, file photo, Mussallina Muhaymin, left, and Zarinah Tavares, sisters of...
Associated Press

Trial set in lawsuit filed over man’s death during struggle with Phoenix police

An April 25 trial has been scheduled in a lawsuit filed over the 2017 death of a man during a struggle with Phoenix police officers who were arresting him outside a community center.
1 day ago
Teacher sues Valley school district over face mask mandate