KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Board of Education and a group of parents who sued the district to institute a mask mandate have reached a settlement to end nearly seven months of legal proceedings.
The two parties on Monday, April 18, reached an agreement that would see the school district pay $145,000 to the group of parents in attorneys’ fees and end the ongoing litigation in the district and federal court. The settlement is pending approval by U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer.
The plaintiffs initially asked for $185,000 to dismiss the lawsuit during Monday’s mediation session before the school board countered with an offer of $75,000. Neither side will admit wrongdoing as part of the agreement and mediator costs will be split between the board, the families and the state.
Last month, Judge Greer issued a stay on the lawsuit and ordered both parties to enter mediation within 60 days in an effort to find an agreement that will be accepted by the court. Greer later granted a motion to lift the mask mandate until the parents who filed the lawsuit and the school district reached an agreement to end the lawsuit.
Knox County Schools had been under a reinstated mask mandate due to an injunction issued by Greer in September 2021 after Knox County parents of students with disabilities filed a lawsuit alleging Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order and Knox County Schools’ lack of mask mandate violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The injunction required Knox County Schools to enforce their mask mandate that was in place during the 2020-21 school year and temporarily blocked Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order which allowed parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates.
That lawsuit came after the Board of Education voted 5-4 against a mask mandate in its schools on Sept. 1. Parents of four Knox County Schools students filed a lawsuit claiming their children are “unable to safely attend school without increased risks of serious injury or even death, unlike their nondisabled peers.”