Missoula Schools Attorney to Parents: “The District Does Not Need Your Consent”
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Missoula County Public Schools attorney Elizabeth Kaleva told the parent of an Alberton School student in an email that the school district “does not need your consent” to coerce students into wearing masks or possible testing requirements. Alberton Superintendent and “Google Certified Teacher” Jeff Crews was included in the email. The school district attorney’s reasoning challenges an August joint statement from Governor Greg Gianforte and State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen directing Montana school boards to allow for parental choice when determining the health of their own children.
Kaleva’s statement was in response to an Alberton School parent who filed a Formal Letter of Grievance with the School District regarding testing and mandatory face masks on August 31st. In the parent’s letter, they notified the district that they do not consent to having their children’s face masked for eight hours a day or to regular testing of their children. “Coercion is not consent, I just want to make that clear,” the parents letter to the district stated. “I have sent in a previous formal letter of grievance and have not heard anything back. I am still pursuing all options to retain my parental rights.”
The parent said in the letter that if their students choose to take off their mask, the school should “respect that and ask if they need anything and to hear them out.”
School attorney Kaleva disagreed with the parent stating that the board would formally rule on the parent’s grievance at its next school board meeting. Kaleva told the parent that, in the meantime, “the district does not need your consent for your children to follow the rules.”
The school’s attorney also said that she did not doubt that parents have done their own research regarding mask efficacy, but that the school will “rely on the advice of medical experts” including from the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Montana Medical Association.
Two weeks ago, the Montana Department of Public Health released an emergency health rule stating that there was no evidence that masks are effective at reducing infections of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that can cause COVID-19. A lawsuit has been filed with several Missoula school districts and Missoula County requesting a restraining order and injunction against school mask mandates. An in-person hearing on the preliminary injunction request is set for Wednesday, September 29, 2021, at 9:00 AM.