LIVE BLOG: Longview school board unanimously agreed with mask mandate, hearing will resume in 1 week

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5:13 p.m.

AG’s office questioning lasted one minute and only established that the school board took no action to rescind the mask mandate.

Judge Dulweber has adjourned the hearing until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20 to continue testimony.

5:11 p.m.

The AG’s Office has now begun their questioning of Dr. Germanwala.

5:00 p.m.

Dr. Germanwala testifies that the school board did not take action regarding the mask mandate implemented by Dr. Wilcox, but that the board unanimously agreed with it.

10-minute break called again after LISD finishes questioning Dr. Germanwala. State will question next then we should be done for the day

4:47 p.m.

4:40 p.m.

Judge overrules objection by AG’s that Dr. Germanwala is in fact an expert witness in this hearing.

4:30 p.m.

The two sets of lawyers have finished debated admitted evidence. Judge Dulweber has acknowledged that they will not finish the hearing today.

Dr. Wilcox will resume testimony Wednesday, Oct. 20. Dr. Samir V. Germanwala, a Longview cardiologist will now testify. He is being questioned by school district lawyers. (He is unable to testify next week due to three scheduled surgeries.)

4:00 p.m.

Before the district questions Dr. Wilcox, they are attempting to submit evidence for Judge Dulweber to consider.

The Texas AG’s office is adamantly objecting to several pieces of them and the sets of lawyers are arguing nearly 20 exhibits. One of the objections by the AG’s Office was arguing that COVID cases numbers were “irrelevant.”

3:50 p.m.

AG lawyers have finished questioning Dr. Wilcox about his process of implementing the mask mandate. He said he considered his role of “providing a safe environment for students” as the primary factor behind the mandate.

3:30 p.m.

Lawyers for Longview ISD argue that the Texas Education Code gave Dr. Wilcox the sole authority to manage his school district and that Gov. Abbott has exceeded his authority by mandating how districts are run.

Dr. Wilcox is being questioned by lawyers with the AG’s office as evidence in this hearing.

3:00 p.m.

Judge Dulweber denies the motion by Longview ISD to stay the case while separate litigation is pending out of the Austin area.

2:47 p.m.

The hearing has resumed after a 15-minute recess. Longview ISD is asking for a stay, or pause, in the case due to a lawsuit filed by an Austin-area school district that has sued Abbott over his executive order.

2:30 p.m.

Judge Dulweber denies a motion by Longview ISD to dismiss the case due to lack of standing by the Texas AG’s Office. He did not list an explicit reason.

They are in a 15-minute recess and will begin around 2:45 p.m.

2:15 P.M.

Judge Dulweber rules that the Texas AG’s office does have the authority to bring a lawsuit against the school district. Both sides are now arguing whether the lawsuit should be dismissed.

The school district says that Dr. Wilcox, the superintendent, was acting within his authority as the Chief Executive Officer of the district. The AG’s office says that he overstepped his authority by violating Gov. Abbot’s executive order (GA-38) that prohibits mask mandates.

Original Story

LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – The first hearing in a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against Longview ISD over their mask mandate is being held Wednesday afternoon at the Gregg County Courthouse.

The hearing will be heard by County Court at Law 2 Judge Vincent Dulweber, who has been on the bench for nearly two decades.

The district is being sued by the State of Texas for implementing a mask mandate in late August in defiance of an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott.

After classes began, the school district reported a spike in coronavirus cases among its 8,000 students and staff. In response, the school board approved a mask mandate in violation of Abbott’s order.

Paxton has filed several lawsuits against districts across the state, including two others in East Texas: Diboll and Lufkin ISD. Chapel Hill ISD also has implemented a mandate but, as of this writing, Paxton has not filed a lawsuit against them.

Paxton wrote in the lawsuit that Longview ISD is “deliberately violating state law.” He cites the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 saying that Abbott alone is the “commander-in-chief” during a declared disaster and has powers that include issuing executive orders that carry the full force of state law.

The TDA does not confer on county judges, city mayors, or any other local officials an independent power to issue emergency orders carry the force and effect of law.

LAWSUIT AGAINST LONGVIEW ISD (PAGE 5)

When the mandate took effect, the district released a statement saying that “wearing a mask is a matter of respecting other people’s well-being and respecting each other’s safety. This is why our priority is the health and safety of our students, employees, and community.”

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