A nonprofit student advocacy group filed a new lawsuit in California last week over improper treatment and segregation of unmasked students.
Let Them Breathe (LTB), based in San Diego, brought the case against the Oakdale Joint Unified School District (OJUSD). The complaint in the matter alleges that the district is “engaged in egregious actions” against students who are not wearing masks. Those students have been threatened with suspension, unexcused absences, expulsion, removal from extracurricular activities and other disciplines.
The lawsuit also says that unmasked students have been denied extra credit opportunities available to other students and have been denied access to textbooks and computers. It claims that unmasked students have been forced to sit outside buildings and leave school grounds without supervision.
Last month, students in the district organized a protest against the masking rules handed down by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. As a result, students in the district’s high school said teachers barricaded them inside the gym and “froze them out” by turning down the heat.
LTB attorney Justin Reden said the group would no longer tolerate masking rules that silence students and place them outside of a respectful and supportive learning environment. He said that any school that refuses to put students first will “be forced to defend their actions publicly.”
LTB has brought other lawsuits against school districts, including a case filed in January against New West Charter School. That case alleges that students were forced to sit in a school parking lot to refuse to follow a vaccine mandate.
OJUSD changed its policy on masking after the lawsuit was filed, stating that students will be educated on masking and asked to wear them, “but no further actions will be taken.” The district superintendent said he was “not aware” if the lawsuit’s filing was the reason for the sudden change to the policy.
The California state government is scheduled to end its school masking mandate on March 11.