Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds' decisions to ban school mask mandates and cut federal pandemic unemployment benefits have sparked two lawsuits and a threat of more legal action.
Frances Parr, who has twin boys, filed suit on Monday against the state challenging the law that bans mask mandates in public schools, according to the Des Moines Register. Her two children, who were due to start first grade in the Council Bluffs Community School District, are now being home-schooled.
The newspaper says the suit claims Parr’s boys are likely to get sick from COVID-19 if they attend school since they would "be exposed to unmasked and unvaccinated students under 12 and individuals in their school."
The lawsuit is asking for a judge to order the state to impose a universal mask mandate in schools — at least temporarily.
"I think there's a duty on behalf of the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health and the governor to protect our students, and I don't think they're doing that," said Dan McGinn, Parr's attorney.
The Republican governor is named in the suit, along with the state Department of Education director Ann Lebo and Iowa Department of Public Health director Kelly Garcia.
The lawsuit wants a court order declaring those named in the suit have the power to issue a mandate.
Pat Garrett, a spokesperson for Reynolds, said in a statement that Iowa schools "have been open safely and responsibly since August of last year."
Meanwhile, Reynolds pushed back at threatened legal action by the Biden administration over Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates.
The Gazette newspaper said the administration is exploring whether a civil rights law gives the federal government the power to overturn mask mandate bans in schools.
"We are doing our job; he needs to do his job," Reynolds said. Her comments came in response to President Joe Biden’s remarks indicating he anticipates the U.S. Department of Education to use its powers to convince states not to ban mask mandates in classrooms, according to the newspaper.
The Hill reported Iowa was among the first four of 25 Republican-led states to stop pandemic unemployment benefits in June. The federal money was originally scheduled to end on Sept. 6.
The news outlet noted many Republicans have said the federal unemployment benefits were actually convincing people not to return to work.
Now, Reynolds has been hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit that claims she violated state law by cutting off the payments early, the Des Moines Register said.
The program had provided an extra $300 per week to unemployed workers like Crystal Marciniak, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
When Reynolds stopped the federal program, Marciniak had to deplete her savings to pay for food and other essentials, the lawsuit claims.
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