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Parents plan to sue Diocese of Venice over mask mandate in schools

Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 19:18:32-04

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA — A group of parents are planning to sue the Diocese of Venice over the mask requirement in schools.

Their attorney is arguing the mask mandate violates the "Parents' Bill of Rights" signed earlier this year by Governor Ron DeSantis.

One parent we spoke with in Port Charlotte tells us his kids still aren’t being allowed in school because they won’t wear masks, and he thinks they need to be accommodated.

Joe Alva said it was emotional when he brought his children to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School Monday morning.

“Our kids knew that they most likely weren’t going to get out of the car, so they started crying. You know, we left," said Alva.

We learned other students not wearing masks who tried to go to school were turned away. Alva is one of several parents who oppose the mask mandate at all of the schools in the Diocese of Venice, and attorney Robert Fojo says, he’s in the right.

“The school needs to provide some accommodation for these students who claim, and should provide them with an opportunity to claim either a religious or medical exemption in response to this requirement," said Fojo.

Fojo believes the mask mandate is in violation of the Parents Bill of Rights.

"That law protects the rights of parents to make and direct healthcare decisions and medical decisions for their children. It includes, for example, an exemption against immunization requirements. So that provision specifically protects the right to choose not to mask their children," said Fojo.

The Bill Summary states that the law "Prohibits the state, its political subdivisions, any other governmental entities and any other institutions from infringing upon the fundamental right of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her minor child without demonstrating a compelling state interest for such actions."

That’s why Fojo said he agreed to represent parents like Alva as they fight to get their kids back into school, without masks.

“Enough is enough. There’s too many decisions being made backed by zero science," said Alva.

Fojo said he plans to file that lawsuit later this week. He said they’re only seeking an injunction to end the mandate.

We reached out to the Diocese for a comment, but we did not hear back.