A lawsuit by parents accusing the Riverhead Central School District of violating the rights of their children by making them wear masks during the pandemic has been voluntarily discontinued by both sides.
The lawsuit, brought by Monique Parsons, the mother of two students in the district, and Jennifer Venth, the mother of one child in the district, was filed in Suffolk County Supreme Court in November 2022. The lawsuit accused the district and several school officials of violating New York Civil Rights Law by requiring their children, who according to the complaint could not tolerate masks, to wear the face coverings at Pulaski Street School and Riverhead Middle School.
The school district denied the parent’s allegations, which also included negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and endangering the welfare of a child. The lawsuit sought monetary damages.
Both sides have agreed to discontinue the lawsuit “without costs, fees, or disbursements to any party as against the other,” according to a stipulation dated Jan. 10 and filed with the court. The action was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning the plaintiffs in the case cannot refile the same claim again in that court.
The lawsuit stated that Parsons’ and Venth’s children went to school without masks on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, the day after a Nassau County judge ruled the New York State Health Department’s mask mandate was unenforceable. The State Education Department had ordered schools to continue the mask mandate the night before, and another court deemed the judge’s decision unenforceable. Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the mask mandate a few weeks later.
The complaint accused the Pulaski Street and middle school building principals with unlawful imprisonment by confining the students to the segregated classrooms “against their will when they chose to be mask-free.”
Both the attorney representing Parsons and Venth, Chad LaVeglia of Hauppauge, and the attorney representing the school district, Deanna Collins of Silverman & Associates in White Plains, did not return calls and emails seeking comment for this story.
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