Fulton County parents drop mask lawsuit against school district

Parents who sued the Fulton County school board over the district’s former mask mandate recently dropped their case after a new state law made the legal battle moot.

Atlanta attorney Ray S. Smith III, who represents the 11 families who sued the district, filed a motion last week in the Georgia Court of Appeals to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit. He cited legislation signed by Gov. Brian Kemp last month that gives parents the ability to opt their children out of school mask mandates for the next five years.

“In light of the new law passed by the General Assembly, we have resolved the case,” Smith said, in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are grateful for the legislature’s attention to the importance of parental choice on this very important issue.”

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The district consented to the case’s dismissal, according to court documents. The agreement calls for the parties to bear their own costs and legal fees.

Fulton spokesman Brian Noyes said he could not immediately provide the amount of money the district has spent on its legal defense. An online fundraiser to support the parents’ courtroom cause raised more than $30,000.

Noyes said the district’s attorneys were confident they would win, but the new state law makes the matter moot.

“We approved of the dismissal of the case and look forward to closing the year focused on student achievement,” he said in an email to the AJC.

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Fulton students were required to wear masks at various points throughout this school year as a safety measure to curb the spread of COVID-19. The parents filed a lawsuit in September seeking to overturn the mandate, contending that forced mask-wearing harmed children’s physical and mental health.

A Fulton County judge rejected their request to bar the district from enforcing the mandate. The parents appealed, and the case had been pending in the state court for several months.

Fulton made masks optional in late January, roughly a month before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its stance on mandatory masking in schools.

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