A group of parents has filed a lawsuit in Iredell County Superior Court against the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education claiming the board exceeded its legal authority by requiring face masks and excluding students from school who were exposed to COVID-19.

The lawsuit claims that only the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services and the Iredell County Health Department have the legal authority to exercise control measures in Iredell County to control the spread of COVID-19.

The I-SS Board, therefore, has “improperly exercised its authority” by requiring face masks in school facilities and by quarantining students who were exposed to COVID-19 while in school, according to the 48-page lawsuit filed by Charlotte attorneys David G. Redding and Ryan Simpson and Raleigh attorney Matthew P. Ceradini. The lawsuit also claims that the board’s mask mandate has violated state law because the parent-plaintiffs did not consent to medical treatment for their children.

In addition, the parents claim that face masks offer little protection against COVID-19 and “the harm created by the Policies far outweighs any benefit” in mitigating the COVID-19 situation in public schools.

The school board’s mask and quarantine policies are “not based on science or reason, but instead some combination of political leanings, emotions, irrational fears, and psychological anxieties of its Superintendent and members of the Board,” the plaintiffs allege.

Citing district policy, I-SS Superintendent Jeff James said district officials would not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting the school board from implementing its masking and quarantine policies, asks for more than $25,000 in compensatory damages for negligence, and also asks the court to award punitive damages and attorney’s fees and costs.

The parents claim that the school board’s policies have caused physical and mental harm to their children.

Among the allegations:

♦ Jarrett and Christian Deschenes claim their children, who are in kindergarten and third grade at Lakeshore Elementary, suffer from shortness of breath, a lack of focus and a lack of social awareness, which their parents attribute to the mask policy.

♦ Michelle Forinash claims her children, who attend Lakeshore Middle and Lake Norman High, have suffered from “shortness of breath, acne outbreaks in the area where the masks are worn, anxiety, inability to focus, and irritability from being forced to wear masks all day.”

♦ Jose and Jamie Funes Galvez claim their daughter, who attends Shepherd Elementary, has developed breathing difficulties and “extreme anxiety” because of the mask mandate. “She frequently cries to her parents about having to wear the mask and prays to God every night that the masks ‘go away.’ “

♦ Christine Haithcox and Ernie Johnson, allege that their daughters, who attend South Iredell High, are “now reluctant to go to school and have even considered remote class options at the expense of their sports and social life due to the impact on their mental wellbeing.”

♦ Jeff and Kellie King claim their children, who attend Lake Norman Elementary, have suffered from oxygen deprivation as well as socially and emotionally because of the mask mandate. The mandate has also made it difficult for their youngest child to make friends, they claim.

♦ Stuart and Zlata Modeen claim the mask mandate has caused “shortness of breath, acne breakouts, sore throat, increased allergic reactions, isolation and anxiety” for their daughter, who attends Lake Norman High.

♦ David and Kristain Rankin, whose children attended North Iredell Middle, West Iredell Middle and Central Elementary, claims they have experienced a variety of health issues, including nose bleeds, headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath and sweating due to being forced to wear a mask at school. “None of the children were able to focus on academics during school since the masks are such a significant distraction,” according to the lawsuit. The Rankins ultimately removed their children from public school “to protect their health.”

♦ Matthew and Tiffany Varoli, whose child attends Celeste Henkel Elementary, claim their child “developed a terrible cough” and has suffered academically because of the mask requirement.

♦ John and Lydia Wroth claim that Lake Norman High officials rejected a medical waiver for their son and later excluded him from school due to an “alleged” close contact. The parents are “highly concerned” for their child’s health and because of “the administration’s potentially retaliatory conduct against their son.”

♦ Christopher and Jennifer Zima claim their children, who attended Shepherd Elementary and Lakeshore Middle, have experienced “shortness of breath, headaches and emotional distress” because they have been forced to wear masks all day at school. The Zimas removed their children from public school.

♦ Tony Oliphant and Linda Scafidi, whose children attend Lake Norman Elementary, have experienced shortness of breath and anxiety from wearing masks. “They also have trouble focusing during class, which is impairing their education.”

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