ISBE: Comply With Mask Mandate or Be Stripped of Recognition Status

By Benjamin Cox on August 12, 2021 at 9:40am

The Illinois State Board of Education says that schools must follow the governor’s mask mandate policy or face dire consequences.

President of the Illinois State Board of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala sent a letter out to school districts yesterday afternoon saying that districts have no authority to deny it, and if they do, they will face the potential of losing their recognition as a school district and possibly be stripped of participating in IHSA/IESA sanctioned sporting events.

Ayala says that by not enforcing the mandate, despite extreme public pressure to do otherwise, not only puts students and staff lives at risk but places districts in extraordinary legal liability questions potentially without any insurance to cover damages or lawsuits. By losing recognition, a district could potentially lose millions of dollars in state and federal funding.

Ayala says that multiple remedy actions will be taken to ask a district for compliance before recognition would be removed. Superintendents have been asked to communicate the mask requirement and communicate with school communities about it.

A private school in Chicago has already been slapped with non-recognition status by ISBE. Timothy Christian Schools in Elmhurst had its recognition stripped after its school superintendent had stated publicly they would be violating the governor’s order. It’s noteworthy because it’s the same school that Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch sends his two children.

Attorney Thomas DeVore, who filed multiple lawsuits against the Pritzker Administration last year over COVID mitigations, has already filed a lawsuit on behalf of a parent in Clinton County in the Breese School District over the mandate. DeVore claims Pritzker has no authority to create substantive law which usurps the authority of local school boards. The lawsuit is set for a hearing at 11 AM on Tuesday, August 17th at the Clinton County Courthouse in Carlyle.