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Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers

Bentonville School District v. Sitton

Overview

Bentonville School District v. Sitton (Supreme Court of Arkansas, Apr. 14, 2022): The Arkansas Supreme Court reversed an order blocking a school district’s mask mandate, holding that state law gave schools broad authority to establish internal policies. The school board had approved a mask mandate requiring staff and students age 3 and older to wear masks indoors and in school vehicles, with some exceptions. Parents challenging the policy argued it violated their fundamental liberty interests in the care, custody, and maintenance of their children under the Arkansas constitution. The state Supreme Court held that the masking policy did not infringe on the parents’ constitutional rights, referencing Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), which upheld the power of states to mandate vaccination. The court also held that the policy was a valid use of the school board’s powers under state law. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 16, 2022.

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