Biden launches investigation into Texas school mask mandate ban
September 23, 2021
The Biden administration has launched a civil rights investigation into Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order prohibiting school mask mandates, the latest in a series of probes by the Department of Education into whether the statewide bans violate the rights of students with disabilities.
The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) notified Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath in a letter Tuesday that it was opening a probe into whether “students with disabilities who are at heightened risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are prevented from safely returning to in-person education" as a result of the ban on mask requirements.
Suzanne Goldberg, the Education Department’s acting assistant secretary for civil rights, said that the investigation will specifically focus on whether the statewide ban is preventing schools from meeting components of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects students from disability-based discrimination, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits public entities, including educations systems, from discriminating based on disability.