Local parents join suit fighting mandates

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Waterloo, Columbia, Valmeyer and Red Bud school district parents are part of a large lawsuit filed Wednesday regarding COVID-19 mandates and policies.

Thomas DeVore, an attorney based in Greenville who has previously filed several lawsuits throughout Illinois related to executive orders made during the pandemic, filed the miscellaneous remedy complaint in Macoupin County.

There are a total of 145 school districts listed as defendants in this suit along with Gov. JB Pritzker, the Illinois State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala, and Illinois Department of Public Health and its director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

DeVore told the Republic-Times the suit poses the following main questions: Can a school district or the governor require “otherwise perfectly healthy children” to wear a mask in order to enter the school building? Can “perfectly healthy children” be excluded from the school because they may have been a close contact?

The suit hopes to establish that only local health departments, not schools or their districts, can determine who is a “close contact,” and that in order to exclude a student from school, the local health department must have issued an order of quarantine unless the parent chooses to keep their child home, DeVore said.

It also asks the court to consider a mask as a type of modified quarantine, therefore an order of quarantine or parental consent must be issued to mandate a child wear a mask.

There will be a temporary restraining order hearing at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5 at the Macoupin County Courthouse.

To view the full filing, click here.

“I am proud to be part of this!” Sam Haag, a Columbia parent who is one of the many plaintiffs in the suit, posted on Facebook.

Haag started a GoFundMe “to cover the attorney fees of Thomas DeVore which have already been paid to bring suit against Columbia Unit School District #4,” with a fundraising goal of $5,000.

Individuals across the state have reported receiving solicitations – a reported $5,000-plus per school district – seeking funds toward DeVore’s latest legal effort. In response to Wednesday’s lawsuit, Pritzker called DeVore a “grifter.” In response, DeVore said he’s hired an attorney and may sue the governor for defamation.

DeVore, a Republican, is currently running for a seat as judge on the state’s Fifth Appellate District Court.

Parents from the Waterloo and Columbia school districts have voiced some of the same concerns mentioned in the lawsuit at recent school board meetings. For our article on Monday’s Waterloo School Board meeting, click here. For our article on last month’s Columbia School Board meeting, click here.

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