LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In a video released Friday morning, the superintendent of the Little Rock School District said he plans on recommending that the school board file suit against the state of Arkansas to lift the ban on mask mandates.
In the just over 5-minute video, Superintendent Mike Poore said that while he appreciates the efforts being made by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, he feels that a scheduled special session to review amending Act 1002, which bans the state, communities or public institutions from enacting a mask mandate, is not enough of a move to protect students.
Poore noted that he hoped state lawmakers would pass a change in the law allowing schools to make their own decisions on masks but noted that he was “not confident that that will occur.”
Instead, he explained, filing a lawsuit will allow this debate to move to the judicial arena to see if the law can be changed.
The superintendent said he has presented a four-pronged outline for the lawsuit to the school board, and he will present the plan at a special meeting this coming Wednesday.
Poore said his focus was trying to determine how to “best protect our kids” as well as keep staff safe.
Calling vaccines the “number one factor” in creating a safe environment in schools, he said that just over 70 percent of district staff have received the vaccine. For students eligible to be vaccinated, Poore estimated that the number was far lower, closer to only 10 percent.
With those low vaccination rates, Poore said the “common sense approach” would be for there to be local control over mask regulations. He noted how local hospitals and the federal court system were already using this kind of plan.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.