High school teacher sues Phoenix Union district over COVID-19 mask mandate

By Yana Kunichoff | Arizona Republic

A high school biology teacher has filed a lawsuit against Phoenix Union High School District’s requirement that everyone wear masks indoors, the latest in the battle over mask mandates in Arizona schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED:  Second Phoenix Union school under mask mandate

Douglas Hester, who teaches at Metro Tech High School, filed suit on Monday against the district, its governing board and its superintendent in Maricopa County Superior Court. He alleges Phoenix Union’s governing board lacks the legal authority to require masks.

The lawsuit comes as the governing board of a second district, Phoenix Elementary School District, voted Monday night to require masks indoors. The policy is in line with federal and local public health guidance in response to the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, but runs counter to an Arizona law banning mask and vaccine mandates. 

At question in Hester’s lawsuit is the authority of school district governing boards and whether they must be responsive to public health guidance or state law.

“No school district is above the law,” said Alexander Kolodin, Hester’s attorney. “We are pleased to take action on behalf of this brave teacher to ensure government bodies follow state law.”

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