CHEYENNE – A parent of a student in Laramie County School District 1 has given notice of his intent to sue the district over a recent decision to require students to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Jason Hoover hired a lawyer to send the district a letter challenging its policies. In the letter, Cheyenne attorney Cassie Craven cites the Wyoming Constitutional Health Care Freedom Amendment, the U.S. Constitution and one’s right to a free public education as reasons for challenging the school board’s decision.
Hoover is the parent of a student who has allegedly suffered impacts due to the mask requirement, but he said he made the decision to hire an attorney for reasons beyond just protecting his child’s health.
He sees the mask mandate as unconstitutional, which he said he can no longer accept.
“We all have a duty, particularly for our children,” he said, “to stand against lawlessness and to stand up and assert our rights.”
Craven has been retained to address those concerns. She expressed in her written warning to the LCSD1 administration she doesn’t believe there is a case to defend the mask mandate.
“When a state or local policy implicates a fundamental right through coercion, or otherwise, the strict scrutiny standard applies, and it is my belief you’ll never survive that legal hurdle,“ she stated in her letter. “In short, your actions against these children, when their parents and guardians have contrary wishes, is illegal, and we will make certain you answer for it.”
She even described a recent incident in which she said she believed the school may have committed battery, after allegedly forcing a student to continue to wear a mask when they showed symptoms of extreme anxiety.
Hoover is not the only parent to object to the recent decision by the board, but he is one of the first to hire an attorney. The letter to the administration is not an official complaint, though it is a warning of future legal action for damages and claims allowable by law.
“A good cowboy tells somebody they need to be prepared,” he said Friday.
Hoover had not received a response from the Board of Trustees or members of the administration as of Friday afternoon, but LCSD1 Superintendent Margaret Crespo said the legal notice has been sent to the school district’s attorneys.
Crespo said, at the moment, there is no plan to remove the mask requirement from schools in Cheyenne. She said officials are waiting for COVID-19 cases to decrease, as well as for the local health department to update the transmission risk levels to moderate or low.
COVID cases are decreasing across the district since the mask mandate went into place. At the end of the week, there were 39 students and six staff members who tested positive. Less than 30 other students were quarantined. A week earlier, LCSD1 reported 92 positive cases in a single week.
Crespo said she encourages families to reach out with any concerns, though, and suggests parents look into the medical waiver for masks. Out of the 14,000 students in the district, there have only been 19 waiver applications for students, and 15 of those were accepted.
“We are trying very hard to work with families along the way and their medical professionals,” she said.
Hoover said a medical waiver should not be necessary for parents, because it is a waiver to an unlawful action. He said he has tried to cooperate and show compassion for officials by working with the system and attending board meetings, but there have been no changes.
Since there is no law, as well as no current mask mandate at the county or state level, he said the board has overstepped its bounds by requiring masks.
“Are we going to choose the law?” he said. “As for me, in my house, we will choose the law.”