ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — Several local school districts are defying Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s order to drop their mask mandates and they may have an ally in a local Republican prosecutor.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar weighed in on the mask mandate debate last week when County Councilman Joe Brazil emailed Lohmar to ask "who will enforce the law in this case when schools continue to break the law," according to email provided by Lohmar's office.
"I'm going to give you my honest opinion, politics aside," Lohmar wrote. "...the AG has no authority over local school boards."
Last week, Schmitt sent letters to every district in the state demanding they drop their mask mandates after a court ruling invalidated mandates by health departments.
But several school districts told 5 On Your Side their attorneys see the law differently. They said schools can enforce mandates passed by their elected school boards.
Saint Louis University Law professor John Ammann said it's similar to the authority schools have to require certain vaccines and to send sick kids home from school.
"The laws of Missouri give school districts the authority to do a lot of things related to the health of children," said Ammann. "Are we telling school nurses that if little Johnny, the third grader, has 103 fever and is vomiting that the school nurse can't send him home? That can't be the law.”
"I have no authority to enforce any sort of directive or cease and desist letter from the AG because it's not a criminal law,” Lohmar said in the email.
Schmitt has previously argued the state legislature has never given school boards the authority to pass mask mandates.
"This is not an issue for local prosecutors, as the state's chief legal officer, we have the authority to enforce the law and that's exactly what we're doing,” Schmitt's press secretary Chris Nuelle said on Wednesday.
Which means the dispute between school boards and the attorney general could be headed to court, Ammann said.
Read Lohmar's email below: