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Schools & School Boards – Constitutional – Virtual Education Limit – Mask Mandate Ban

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//October 6, 2021

Schools & School Boards – Constitutional – Virtual Education Limit – Mask Mandate Ban

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//October 6, 2021

If a school district places more than five percent of its students in virtual learning, Proviso 1.108 of the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act reduces school funding for every child over that five-percent threshold. Proviso 1.108 does not limit a student’s right to a free education or limit the school district’s ability to provide virtual education. Instead, it reflects the reduced cost associated with providing an education virtually instead of in the physical classroom. The proviso does not deprive students of their constitutional right to a free education.

We reject petitioners’ challenges to Provisos 1.108 and 1.103 of the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act.

There is no evidence that any students are receiving disparate treatment. Indeed, there cannot be any argument of disparate treatment, as the provisos apply equally to all students and all public K-12 schools. Accordingly, petitioners’ equal protection claim is without merit.

As we held in Wilson v. City of Columbia, Op. No. 28056, “Proviso 1.108 manifestly sets forth the intent of the legislature to prohibit mask mandates funded by the 2021-2022 Appropriations Act in K-12 public schools.” We also rejected the city’s constitutional challenge to the proviso. We held Proviso 1.108 does not violate the one-subject rule, as it “reasonably and inherently relates to the raising and spending of tax monies.”

We further rejected the argument that Proviso 1.108 violates the Home Rule Act because Home Rule does not grant local governments the authority to effectively overrule a legislative enactment by the General Assembly. Finally, we held the proviso preempted the conflicting local ordinances. For the reasons we set forth in City of Columbia, we respectfully reject petitioners’ similar challenges to the provisos.

Finally, as we noted in City of Columbia, we do not reject the possibility that funds not appropriated or authorized by that act may be used to announce or enforce a mask mandate.

Judgment declared.

Richland County School District 2 v. Lucas (Lawyers Weekly No. 010-060-21, 6 pp.) (Per curiam) Carl Solomon, Skyler Hutto and Allen Nickles for petitioners; Susan McWilliams, Michael Parente, Emily Wayne, Kenneth Moffitt, Sara Parrish, John Hazzard, Cathy Hazelwood and Henry Gunter for respondents; Alan McCrory Wilson, Robert Cook and Emory Smith for amicus curiae. S.C. S. Ct.

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