School that forced asthmatic 10-year-old girl to mask in class forced to prove its case in court

"The school’s job is to educate children, not second guess their doctors."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

A New York elementary school that forced a 10-year-old student with severe asthma and anxiety to wear a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic despite her a medical exemption will be going to court to defend itself from her lawsuit.  

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An appeals court recently sided with Children's Health Defense, who sued the Franklin Square Union Free School District on behalf of the child, identified as Sarah Doe, and her mother. The judges agreed to reverse the dismissal of the suit by a district court last year and ruled that the case must move forward. 

According to the Defender, while the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit maintained that the plaintiffs had no constitutional claim, the judges determined that the district court's dismissal of the claim that the school violated the Americans with Disabilities Act was wrong. 

The judges justified their decision by pointing out that, in accordance with the ADA, courts cannot dismiss claims made by those who feel their rights under the act have been violated without first examining the evidence and details of each case. 

“In normal ADA cases, the parent's burden is just to establish that their child has a disability and that they asked for an accommodation but were denied," the plaintiffs' attorney, Sujata Gibson, explained.  

"That is supposed to be enough to proceed to trial, where the school then bears the burden of proving that it would either be too unsafe or too expensive to provide the accommodation that the child’s doctor recommends." 

She noted that while the case is now moving to discovery, it could take over a year before the suit is decided. 

In 2021, Sarah was forced to continue masking up in class despite receiving confirmation of a medical exemption from her treating physician. 

School officials allegedly "harassed and humiliated her," and even filmed her pulling down the mask to try and breathe. 

Sarah experienced numerous asthma attacks, and her anxiety worsened. Eventually, she was offered a mesh mask which, according to Gibson, was by administrators' own admission, "essentially a costume."  

"The school’s job is to educate children," Gibson declared, "not second guess their doctors." 

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