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Group of Allen parents file federal class action suit against school district over COVID measures

“I vacillate between finding my patience and empathy and just feeling very angry, because so much of it is preventable,” said Allen parent Therissa Grefsrud.

ALLEN, Texas — Therissa Grefsrud has two children, ages 7 and 6, and like most parents, she is concerned for her school-age children in this pandemic. The single mother from Allen is one of several hundred parents challenging Allen Independent School District in court.

“Honestly, I feel like when I’m sending them [to school] we’re playing Russian roulette with their lives and other kid’s lives,” said Grefsrud. 

Grefsrud is a registered nurse specializing in infection prevention and epidemiology. She told WFAA that she had exhausted every other avenue before taking the legal route. 

The complaint was filed late Wednesday. It is a class action lawsuit comprised of Allen parents to the Eastern District of Texas, a federal court.

In the complaint, attorneys cite the 14th Amendment.

The complaint reads:

“The School Board has a duty to assure the right to life of the DOES’s and all students for that matter, is effectuated in School Board Policies, Procedures and Directives but currently it is not. In fact, it gives more import to the happiness of some students over the life, health and welfare of many others.”

Attorneys for the Allen parents supplied a letter from 200 physicians at Cooks Children Healthcare System expressing concern over the delta variant.

RELATED: Cook Children's is seeing more severe illness now than at any point during the pandemic

“You can only do so much before you realize nobody is going to hear you,” said Grefsrud. 

Allen ISD does not have a mask mandate. It also does not have virtual learning options. 

Grefsrud believes masks work and said the polarizing topic of masks usually dominate the conversation, but she cited many other measures that could be taken, like social distancing and classroom spacing. 

“There are very clear recommendations of what we should be doing to keep our kids safe and communities safe. You have a room that is plenty big and few enough kids to do that and they aren’t doing it,” she said.

Allen ISD sent WFAA the following statement:

“Due to the ongoing litigation, the school district cannot speak to the specifics regarding its response to the lawsuit at this time. The district, however, strongly disagrees that the students’ constitutional rights have been violated by leaving masks as an option for students and staff. 

Allen ISD continues to work proactively and professionally with parents who have questions or concerns about COVID-related issues. The vast majority of these concerns have been resolved without the need for litigation.”

Grefsrud said she’d rather not go to court but feels she is out of options. She feels what she and other parents are asking for are common-sense and reasonable recommendations by CDC and other medical entities. 

“I vacillate between finding my patience and empathy and just feeling very angry, because so much of it is preventable,” she said.