Attorney General: Students Have Right to Counsel Under Forced School Quarantines

Attorney General: Students Have Right to Counsel Under Forced School Quarantines

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona law affords students forced to quarantine by their schools for COVID-19 the right to court-appointed counsel at the expense of the state, according to Attorney General Mark Brnovich. In an opinion issued last Friday, Brnovich responded to an inquiry from State Senator Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) on the issue. 

The attorney general explained that schools relying on county health department quarantine or isolation protocol must also adhere to the requirement of counsel outlined in the same law: 

“The court shall appoint counsel at state expense to represent a person or group of persons who is subject to isolation or quarantine pursuant to this article and who is not otherwise represented by counsel,” reads the law. “Representation by appointed counsel continues throughout the duration of the isolation or quarantine of the person or group of persons.  The department or local health authority must provide adequate means of communication between the isolated or quarantined persons and their counsel.”

The law also stipulates that legal counsel must be acquired at state expense and last the duration of the isolation or quarantine. 

In reference to mandatory quarantines for students exposed to COVID-19, Brnovich referenced the authority cited by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) in their letter to communities in August. The letter cited MCDPH authority for student quarantines came from a statute which, in turn, cited the two statutes outlined by Brnovich granting legal counsel. 

“When a county health department or public health services district is apprised that infectious or contagious disease exists within its jurisdiction, it shall immediately make an investigation.  If the investigation discloses that the disease does exist, the county health department or public health services district may adopt quarantine and sanitary measures consistent with department rules and sections 36-788 and 36-789 to prevent the spread of the disease.  The county health department or public health services district shall immediately notify the department of health services of the existence and nature of the disease and measures taken concerning it.”

Brnovich concluded that parents may seek a court order to lift the quarantine immediately, which would initiate the appointment of state-provided legal counsel to the student. A court would have 24 hours to hear the case, and 48 hours to submit its ruling. Counsel would also be available for parents petitioning to change quarantine conditions. In that case, a court would have 10 days to hold a hearing. 

“[U]nder MCDPH’s quarantine requirements, which appear to be issued pursuant to A.R.S. § 36-788, MCDPH, through public schools, is mandating student quarantines without a court order. Once a parent or guardian receives the MCDPH letter requiring quarantine, the parent or guardian is entitled […] to immediately seek a court order lifting the quarantine,” wrote Brnovich. “And once a parent or guardian requests court review, A.R.S. § 36-789(M) requires the court to appoint counsel for the student at state expense. Similarly, if a parent or guardian files an action on behalf of the student challenging the conditions of a quarantine, the court is required to appoint counsel for the student at state expense.”

The attorney general noted that Arizona law doesn’t necessarily define “state expense.” He opined that the cost of counsel could fall on county health departments.

That wasn’t Kelly’s only request for Brnovich’s legal opinion as of late. The state senator requested Brnovich’s opinion on religious tests and denial of religious exemptions by employers. 

An answer on Kelly’s latest question has yet to be published.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Masking Lax at Arizona School Boards Association Conference Despite Mandate

Masking Lax at Arizona School Boards Association Conference Despite Mandate

By Corinne Murdock |

Not all attendees were masked up at the Arizona School Boards Association’s (ASBA) Annual Conference last week, despite having a mask mandate in place. ASBA fought for local school districts to be able to establish mask mandates; they joined a lawsuit that prevailed against Governor Doug Ducey’s mask mandate ban.

Pima County Superintendent of Schools Dustin Williams was one leader spotted maskless during the Superintendents Division Business Meeting. In addition to ASBA’s conference mandate, most of Williams’ school districts have mask mandates in place for their students: Ajo Unified, Amphitheater Unified, Catalina Foothills Unified, Flowing Wells Unified, Sunnyside Unified School District, Tanque Verde Unified, and Tucson Unified.

A number of school officials were also maskless as they recorded testimonies for ASBA. One of them was Red Mesa Unified School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Amy Fuller, former interim superintendent for Scottsdale Unified School District. Fuller’s district currently requires face masks at all times indoors. 

Unlike the county superintendent, Tanque Verde Unified Governing Board Member Anne Velosa wore a mask for her testimony. 

AZ Free News reported in September that a number of attendees at an ASBA conference also didn’t mask up. ASBA spokespersons explained that they had a loosely enforced mask mandate in place, and that the individuals were from various districts with different beliefs on masking. 

Parents have voiced concerns about their children’s social development, or the quality of education for those with special needs or disabilities. Current experts on the controversial social-emotional learning (SEL) admit that they don’t have complete studies on the impact of masking on children’s development. However, they speculated that educators could adjust somehow to work around the masks. Feasible solutions haven’t been presented for students who rely on seeing mouths to learn, such as deaf or hearing-impaired students — though some suggest clear masks, those present their own issues like fogging up.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

The Arizona Supreme Court’s Ruling Against Budget Bills Creates Uncertainty and Frustration

The Arizona Supreme Court’s Ruling Against Budget Bills Creates Uncertainty and Frustration

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Devastating. That’s how it felt earlier this week when the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s ruling in Arizona School Boards Association v. State of Arizona. This decision strikes down critical reforms contained in a series of Budget Reconciliation Bills passed by lawmakers and signed by Governor Ducey earlier this year.

And it’s a big blow to the people of Arizona.

This past July, Arizona lawmakers took important steps to protect our state from more COVID mandates and government overreach. Among the laws passed were bans on:

  • A county, city, or town from issuing COVID ordinances that impact private businesses, schools, churches, or other private entities, including mask mandates.
  • K-12 schools from requiring vaccines with an emergency use authorization for in-person attendance.
  • The state and any city, town, or county from establishing COVID vaccine passports or requiring COVID vaccines.
  • Public universities and community colleges from mandating COVID vaccines and vaccine passports.
  • A city, town, county, school board, or charter school from mandating students and teachers to be vaccinated or wear masks.

But COVID wasn’t the only thing these Budget Reconciliation Bills addressed.

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Scottsdale School Board President – Mask Mandate Imposer – Caught Maskless At Bar

Scottsdale School Board President – Mask Mandate Imposer – Caught Maskless At Bar

By Corrinne Murdock |

After another long week of defending his decision to impose mask mandates for Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) students, Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg hung out at a bar maskless last Saturday.

When asked, Greenburg told other reporters via email that confusion over his enjoying a maskless night at the bar while imposing mask mandates at SUSD was nothing more than a “baseless attack.”

“This video is another baseless attack by people whose agenda is to destroy public education and discourage people from serving,” said Greenburg. “It won’t work.”

The CDC cautions that pregnant women are at more of an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Just a few days earlier, Greenburg cursed at concerned parents during a board meeting. Greenburg later apologized, saying he let his frustration get the better of him.

“Jesus f***ing Christ, people,” muttered Greenburg on the hot mic.

Greenburg hasn’t been the only pro-mask mandate public education leader caught enjoying a maskless social life as of late. Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman attended a baby shower maskless and without adhering to social distancing. None of the other guests wore masks or socially distanced themselves, either.

 Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Superintendent Maskless at Indoor Party, Despite Pushing School Mask Mandates

Arizona Superintendent Maskless at Indoor Party, Despite Pushing School Mask Mandates

By Corinne Murdock |

After months advocating for school mask mandates, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman neglected to mask up for an indoors baby shower this past weekend. Hoffman has been a staunch advocate for universal masking.

Just one month ago, Hoffman issued a formal statement decrying Governor Doug Ducey’s ban on K-12 mask mandates. Hoffman sided with CDC guidance, which asks that all individuals wear masks – even those who’ve been fully vaccinated.

“We know masks work and, with rising cases, they’re a vital part of our effort to reduce everyone’s COVID-19 risks,” wrote Hoffman. “I encourage teachers, administrators, and families to listen to the CDC and take individual action to keep themselves and each other safe by wearing a mask during in-person school. Students, teachers, and parents are ready to get back to in-person learning, but it takes all of us.”

All of us, that is, except Hoffman. It appears that Hoffman’s personal life doesn’t align with the version she offers the public eye – even Hoffman’s Twitter and Facebook profiles have her wearing a mask.

The same weekend of Hoffman’s maskless party, another prominent politician and masking advocate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was seen on video maskless at a fundraiser luncheon. Like Hoffman’s experience at the “Bee Tea” baby shower, neither Pelosi or any of the other guests caught on camera wore masks or were socially distant.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.