Parents of medically vulnerable students sue Cobb schools

A demonstrator holds a "We ask for mask" sign is confronted outside the headquarters of the Cobb County School District on Aug. 12, 2021.(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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A demonstrator holds a "We ask for mask" sign is confronted outside the headquarters of the Cobb County School District on Aug. 12, 2021.(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

The mothers of four medically vulnerable Cobb County students on Friday filed a lawsuit against the school district, its superintendent and the board of education.

The suit alleges the district is violating federal law by failing to implement COVID-19 mitigation practices that would allow their children to attend school in person. Because of this, the children are receiving an inadequate education or no education, according to the lawsuit.

The school district maintains a mask-optional policy.

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“As is the case with any issue, individual student needs are supported on a student-by-student basis and we actively encourage any student or family to discuss their needs with their local school,” the district said in a statement released after the possibility of the lawsuit was recently announced.

The parents, who are suing on behalf of their children, are represented by attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as Roswell-based attorney Allison B. Vrolijk and Atlanta-based attorney Craig Goodmark. The children’s health issues include acute myeloid leukemia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and severe asthma.

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The suit, filed in the Atlanta division of U.S. District Court for the northern district of Georgia, names the Cobb County School District, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and each of the seven members of the school board. It cites the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which gives students the right to accommodations at school.

The complaint contrasts the Cobb district’s COVID-19 protocols with CDC recommendations for schools, such as universal masking in schools and on buses, social distancing and the promotion of vaccines. It asks for an injunction prohibiting Cobb school officials from violating federal law and an order that the school district develop policies that follow CDC guidelines. It also seeks unspecified damages and court costs.