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Press Release

AEA Celebrates Arizona Supreme Court Ruling Against Governor’s Mask Ban

On November 2, 2021, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously upheld the lower court ruling that found portions of the K-12 education budget – including bans on mask mandates, vaccines, and controversial topics in the classroom – passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ducey to be unconstitutional.
Published: 11/02/2021

“Today’s Arizona Supreme Court ruling is a victory for our students, educators, and parents,” says AEA President Joe Thomas. “This ruling puts the power of local control and decision making back in the hands of our communities. Now, our elected school boards can make decisions based on local conditions in determining whether to have a mask requirement to keep their students and school staff safe.”

The Arizona Education Association and a coalition of education organizations and supporters filed the lawsuit against the state over the constitutionality of the ban on mask mandates in our public schools. We want to give special appreciation to our attorneys, Roopali Desai of Coppersmith Brockelman, PLC who successfully argued our case before the Supreme Court and to the Arizona Center for the Law and Public Interest for their important contributions to this victory.

When Governor Ducey signed the 200-page K-12 education budget it included new policy provisions for schools unrelated to the budget. These provisions included language prohibiting school districts from requiring face coverings and the COVID-19 vaccine for students and staff, and a teacher gag bill that prohibits teachers from discussing “controversial” topics in the classroom.

“We know the majority of parents and our educators support our school leaders doing everything they can to keep our students and staff safe and healthy,” says Thomas. “We’re seeing more and more school districts taking steps to protect their students and communities. Today’s ruling ensures they won’t have to break the law to implement common sense protections for our students. We urge lawmakers to listen to their constituents and make the right decision by accepting this ruling to ensure our classrooms and campuses are safe so we can keep our students learning in our classrooms.”

AEA and its 20,000 members are committed to our mission of Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education. At the core of that promise is an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our students and staff. We will advocate by all means necessary to deliver on that promise so that every student in the state has access to a quality public school. AEA is proud to stand alongside other public education champions in this effort.

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Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the largest professional association for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.