Republican AG cites ‘excusable neglect’ for missing a deadline in school mask lawsuit he filed

Republican AG cites ‘excusable neglect’ for missing a deadline in school mask lawsuit he filed

In Missouri, State Attorney General Eric Schmitt is among the far-right Republicans who has turned protective face masks into a culture war issue; Schmitt, who is running for the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterms, has filed a long list of lawsuits against school districts over mask mandates. But in one lawsuit, according to the Kansas City Star, Schmitt’s office missed a deadline.

That lawsuit challenged a mask mandate for the schools in Lee’s Summit.

According to Star reporters Jonathan Shorman and Sarah Ritter, “Lee’s Summit schools dropped its mandate last month, and on February 25, the district asked the court to dismiss the case. But a March 10 deadline passed without a response from Schmitt’s office, an attorney for Lee’s Summit schools said in a filing Monday. The district now wants Jackson County Judge Marco Roldan to issue a judgment in favor of the school district and against Schmitt.”

Shorman and Ritter add, “The attorney general’s office on Monday filed its response and asked the court not to hold the missed deadline against it. Jay Atkins, the office’s general counsel, signed an affidavit saying ‘excusable neglect’ caused the office to miss the deadline. ‘Excusable neglect’ is a legal term referring to having a justifiable reason for missing a deadline.”

The affidavit, however, offers no reason why the March 10 deadline was missed.

Joseph Hatley, an attorney who represents Lee’s Summit schools, wrote, “The Attorney General has carpet bombed Missouri’s courts and school districts with at least 45 suits challenging the authority of school districts to create a safe environment for their students and staff. His failure to follow the rules governing these cases suggests that he was only interested in the publicity he generated from filing the suits, but that he wasn’t interested in the hard work of actually litigating them.”

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