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Congressman Biggs Sends Letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Regarding Mask Mandates

September 1, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Andy Biggs sent a letter to Secretary Cardona regarding his use of the Office of Civil Rights to target states prohibiting mask mandates in schools:  

“Secretary Cardona’s decision to weaponize the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to target states that have prohibited mask mandates in schools is as dangerous as it is foolish. The purpose of the Office of Civil Rights is to ensure equal access to education, yet Secretary Cardona is determined to use the office to attack states that are following the science in how they protect our children. The Biden administration will stop at nothing to impose its dictatorial agenda on the American people and has reached a new low in denigrating the purpose of the Office of Civil Rights. Secretary Cardona’s intent to force states to mandate masks in schools, a consequential policy based on a desire for control, should not be tolerated.”- Congressman Andy Biggs

Co-signers: Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10), Rep. Diana Harshbarger (TN-01), Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Rep. Andy Harris (MD-01), Rep. Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05), Rep. Dan Bishop (NC-09), Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-06), Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04), and Rep. Randy K. Weber (TX-14)

Read the letter below and here.

September 1, 2021

 

The Honorable Miguel Cardona

Secretary

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave. SW

Washington, DC 20202

 

Dear Secretary Cardona:

Your decision to weaponize the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to target states that have chosen to ban school mask mandates is misguided and an improper use of federal resources. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights must not be used as a political weapon to single out states that have enacted policies with which the Biden administration disagrees. The Department’s Office of Civil Rights is tasked with the mission of ensuring equal access to education for all students and should not be used to target masking policies that have been enacted at the state and local level.

On Sunday, August 22nd, you appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd to discuss the issue of mask mandates in schools as students prepare to return to the classroom and in-person learning this fall. During your appearance on Meet the Press, you stated that the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education was “prepared to launch investigations…to ensure that all students have access to the fundamental right of education” and would target state and local governments that have prohibited school districts from enforcing mask mandates. A week after you issued your threat on Meet the Press, the Office of Civil Rights opened investigations into Iowa, South Carolina, Utah, Oklahoma, and Tennessee’s policies barring local school districts form mandating masks.  Your effort to interfere with state and local policy determinations on how to return students to in-person instruction this fall is inappropriate and will not be tolerated.

In an interview with The New York Times, you also offered an absurd interpretation of civil rights law to support your decision to use the Office of Civil Rights to investigate states that have prohibited mask mandates in schools. In the interview, you stated that “I’ve heard those parents saying, ‘Miguel, because of these policies, my child cannot access their school, I would be putting them in harm’s way,’…And to me, that goes against the fundamental beliefs of educators across the country to protect their students and provide a well-rounded education.” To argue that permitting unmasked children in the classroom is a deprivation of access for others, and that specific deprivation of access is a civil rights violation, makes a mockery of legitimate civil rights violations that rightly deserve to be investigated and prosecuted. It cannot be that providing parents with the freedom to choose whether their child wears a mask in school represents a civil rights violation for other students. If this logic was accepted, a universal mask mandate for schools in all 50 states would be necessary. The argument you have advanced is without merit and cannot be used to justify an intrusion by the federal government into state and local decision-making in determining how to return students safely to in-person instruction.

State and local governments across the country have worked tirelessly to implement safety measures to return students to in-person instruction this fall. Any attempt by the Department of Education or President Biden’s administration to interfere in this process is inappropriate and will not be tolerated.

 

Sincerely,

 

Andy Biggs

Member of Congress


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