Missoula attorney Quentin Rhoades has filed a lawsuit in Missoula District Court on behalf of Stand Up Montana and several local parents to rescind the mask mandate at Missoula public schools as the new school year is about to get underway.

KGVO spoke to Rhoades about the purpose of the lawsuit.

“We've filed an action to enjoin the public schools from enforcing a policy of forced masking on the students,” said Rhoades. “We’ve done this at the behest of 20 some odd families. We haven't included all of those families in the complaint. We’re representing the lead plaintiff Stand Up Montana, which is a nonprofit organization out of Bozeman, whose mission is to push back against non scientific COVID-19 responses.”

Rhoades expanded on the purpose of the court filing.

“In this case, three of the Missoula County Public School districts are requiring students to mask all day long, and it doesn't have any scientific basis,” he said. “Children don't get COVID-19, and when they do get COVID-19 it's not serious or even symptomatic, and there's lots and lots of science that says that unsterile masks in an unsterile environment do nothing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Rhoades described what will happen now that the lawsuit has been officially filed.

“You know, it's a civil matter,” he said. “I believe it's been assigned to Judge (Robert L. ‘Dusty’) Deschamps, and we're going to ask for a hearing on the preliminary injunction. We'll present our scientific evidence and make our legal arguments and the school boards, if they have any scientific evidence will present that, and the judge will have to weigh it to see if they sustain this life or death, compelling government interest.”

Rhoades said the burden of proof will be on the Missoula School District to prove there is sufficient scientific evidence to uphold the mask requirement.

“When it comes to showing that there's a compelling government interest sufficient to overcome your constitutional right to make your own healthcare decisions, the burden of showing that falls on the government,” he said. “So they're the ones that have to come in and show the proof that if we don't mask these people up, they're going to die. And they're the ones that are going to have to convince the court that it's a public health crisis and it can only be solved with masks.”

KGVO has reached out to MCPS School District One Superintendent Rob Watson for a comment on the pending court action.

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