Upstate mom plaintiff in ACLU lawsuit suing state for ban on school mask mandates

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate mom is going to costly measures to keep her son safe in the classroom. He has asthma and also has been battling a rare disorder.

She is a part of the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against South Carolina alleging a ban on masks in public schools, excludes vulnerable students, like her son.

Amanda McDougald Scott was initially looking forward to this school year and for her son, Polk, to learn at Blythe Academy.

“A school we’ve been really, really excited about because they have a language program and they are like less than 10 minutes away from our house,” said Greenville Mom, Amanda McDougald Scott.

But instead, she’s driving a lot further than 10 minutes and shelling out thousands of dollars to a private school where masks are required and CDC guidelines are followed closely.

“It was untenable for me to send Polk to be in that kind of environment, where I knew that he was very likely to get sick and go back to the hospital and hopefully not but potentially, die,” McDougald Scott told us.

That was important for she and her now, five year old son. On top of having asthma, he has been diagnosed with a rare disorder called HSP.

“He stopped drinking, he stopped eating, really his intestines were bleeding,” explained McDougald Scott.

She said it can be triggered by respiratory illnesses.

“With this new variant and the fact it kind of causes inflammatory illnesses in children, it’s just like the perfect storm of things to be very concerned,” McDougald Scott said.

That’s why she sought out a school she said is safe for Polk.

“They’re all wearing masks, they’re outside most of the day. It’s a really small environment,” said McDougald Scott.

But she doesn’t believe any of this should have been necessary.

“This is unfair discrimination, not being able to provide safe access to school and public schools, which we all pay for with our taxes,” McDougald Scott told 7 News.

She told 7 News, she contacted school leaders in the summer and even lawmakers after she heard about the proviso. She said she offered them other solutions but was told, their hands were tied.

Since then, she has joined a group of others through a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. It claims banning mask mandates in schools, disproportionately affects students with underlying health conditions who are at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID, like Polk.

Despite the lawsuit, South Carolina’s Governor Henry McMaster has shown support for the proviso.

“To have the government step in between and to mandate a child to wear a mask against the wishes of parents, is not the right decision,” said South Carolina’s Governor, Henry McMaster.

For McDougald Scott though, she’s seeking comfort knowing she’s not alone in this battle.

“We are all here and ready to be plaintiffs, and fight for children in South Carolina,” McDougald Scott told us.

What’s next for plaintiffs like McDougald Scott, she told us they’re waiting now to be told when their hearings start, she’s hoping it’s soon. She said this lawsuit isn’t just about the masks but also, following CDC guidelines.

We did reach out to Governor Henry McMaster’s office but have yet to hear back.

It’s also worth noting, under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, public schools cannot exclude students with disabilities or segregate them unnecessarily from their peers.

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