ARIZONA NEWS

Judge: Phoenix Union can keep mask mandate until new law goes into effect

Aug 16, 2021, 12:24 PM | Updated: 3:34 pm

(Facebook photo/Phoenix Union High School District)...

(Facebook photo/Phoenix Union High School District)

(Facebook photo/Phoenix Union High School District)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix school district can continue requiring face masks on campus until a new law goes into effect in September, a Maricopa County judge ruled Monday.

Douglas Hester, a biology teacher at Metro Tech High School, said in a lawsuit that the district’s mask requirement goes against state law but the judge said in the ruling that the law does not go into effect until Sept. 29.

The law, included as part of the state budget signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, prohibited school districts from requiring students and teachers to wear masks.

However, new laws are not effective until 90 days after the legislative session ends.

The judge did say there is an exception for emergency measures, but it requires a two-thirds vote and the statute was not approved by the needed majority.

Due to this, even though the law was retroactive to June 30, it is not an emergency clause.

“I would interpret a retroactivity clause to mean the statute goes into effect on Sept. 29, and at that moment it’s retroactive,” Judge Randall Warner said during a court hearing on Friday. “This is normally what we do for things like statutes of limitations.”

The district in a statement said it was grateful for the ruling.

“Today’s decision is much larger than PXU – it has the potential to impact the 1.1 million students who call Arizona’s public schools home, as well as their families and the broader community,” the statement read.

“This decision will allow districts across the state to continue to prioritize the health, safety, and wellness of their staff, students, and families.”

Hester was allowed by the judge to file a second amended complaint within 45 days, denying the district’s request for dismissal of the case based on the law not yet being in effect.

His attorney, Alexander Kolodin, said Hester is evaluating the next step in the case.

At least 11 districts and more than 200 schools have imposed mask mandates, accounting for 140,000 students in the state.

While Gov. Doug Ducey previously said districts who buck the law have no merit, he hasn’t taken action against the schools.

“The Legislature in this past legislative session directly addressed mask mandates,” C.J. Karamargin, the governor’s spokesman, previously said.

“The governor signed that bill into law, and the legislative intent is clear, the governor’s priorities are clear. So there should be no question about what the intent is and the goal is.”

Arizona’s public universities, as well as the Valley’s community college system, are also requiring masks in classrooms to begin the school year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano seen during 2018 event in Los Angeles, is part of a panel inve...

Kevin Stone

Former Arizona governor joins panel investigating attempted assassination of Donald Trump

Former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano will serve on a panel investigating the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump.

11 minutes ago

Leading Democratic candidate Kamala Harris and Arizona voters...

Serena O'Sullivan

Border could be hardest issue for VP Kamala Harris to win Arizona voters on, Valley political expert says

Vice President Kamala Harris is now in the spotlight as the leading Democratic candidate ahead of the general election in November.

2 hours ago

Vice President Kamala Harris prepares to swear in Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, with wife Gabrielle G...

Kevin Stone

Does Arizona US Sen. Mark Kelly have chance to be running mate for Kamala Harris?

With Vice President Kamala Harris seemingly on track to move to the top of the Democratic ticket, could Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly be her running mate?

2 hours ago

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes answers questions in Phoenix after winning his election in...

Kevin Stone

Arizona Sec. Adrian Fontes explains how Joe Biden’s withdrawal affects state elections

How will Joe Biden's withdrawal affect Arizona elections? "We'll be OK with that," Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said Monday.

4 hours ago

(Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management)...

KTAR.com

Romero, Circle fires threatening land near Kearny in rural Arizona

Crews are working toward containment on two large fires threatening farm land in rural Arizona near Kearny, officials said Sunday.

5 hours ago

People in the Valley are without power after weekend outages...

KTAR.com

Power mostly restored across metro Phoenix morning after storms rolled through

Over 200 people in the Valley went without power early Monday morning, according to the Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Judge: Phoenix Union can keep mask mandate until new law goes into effect