KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Mask mandates in Knox County got a little more complicated on Monday when the county mayor and a state representative announced they are making financial donations to support a lawsuit filed against the county’s board of education.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and State Representative Jason Zachary (R-Farragut) each pledged $5,000 to support a lawsuit aimed at ending a court-enforced mask mandate in Knox County Schools.

“Of course, suing the school board is not our first choice, but it’s the only way to get the case heard at this point,” clarified Jacobs.

Jacobs and Zachary say they are not plaintiffs in this suit. They are helping to financially support the case with private money, meaning that no taxpayer funds are involved.

Masks have been required in Knox County Schools since September 28, 2021, when Judge Ronnie Greer said the school system must enforce the same mandate that was in place during the 2020-2021 school year. The ruling is a part of an ongoing lawsuit against Gov. Bill Lee and Knox County filed by the parents of three Knox County Schools students claiming their children are “unable to safely attend school without increased risks of serious injury or even death, unlike their nondisabled peers.”

“We believe that many parents and defenders of liberty will want to add their voice to this fight,” Zachary said in a release announcing the donation. “If the community pulls together, we can end this harmful mandate and put a stop to the negative impacts on our students.”

The group whose lawsuit Jacobs and Zackary support is filed by Unmask Knox County Kids Association and other Knox County parents, according to the press release. They are represented by The Dhillon Law Group, a team who claims to have won multiple COVID-restriction cases argued before the United States Supreme Court.

The lawsuit names the Knox County Board of Education as the Defendant. The mayor’s office says this is due to “procedural considerations.”

“Knox County Schools’ students are the only ones in the country being federally forced to cover their faces,” Jacobs said. “This fund will help pay one of the best legal teams in the country to fight back against Judge Greer’s egregious overreach. Taking action like this helps us support parents who want to make choices for their own kids; parents who deserve to be heard.”

The office said the school board has been informed.