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The Arizona Supreme Court upheld a ruling that state laws banning mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory in schools are unconstitutional.
A Maricopa County judge had earlier ruled that state legislators violated the state constitution by adding these unrelated bills to a state budget bill.
The Arizona Department of Education said it was passing along information about the ruling, and that it had no authority to give districts a green light to implement those policies.
The Arizona Supreme Court upheld a lower-court decision that state laws banning mask mandates and limiting what schools can teach students about race were unconstitutional.
The Arizona Informer, a conservative publication, posted a letter about the case from the Arizona Department of Education on Instagram, and wrote that the department gave schools the "green light on face mask and vaccine mandates, as well as implementing Critical (Race) Theory."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The letter posted by the Arizona Informer is real, but the post misrepresents the substance and impact of the letter.
The state Supreme Court on Nov. 2, upheld a lower-court ruling from September, in which a judge said that Arizona legislators violated the title and single-subject rules in the state’s constitution (Article IV, Section 13) by adding unrelated bills to a series of budget bills.
Among the bills affected by the ruling were a ban on mask mandates and a ban on teaching critical race theory in schools.
The state education department sent the letter simply to pass along information about the court rulings, and has no authority to give a green light to those policies, the agency wrote in an email to PolitiFact.
The department does encourage mask wearing. Its website says: "In accordance with the CDC and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), face coverings are recommended and encouraged for all individuals in K12 schools, regardless of vaccination status."
The Associated Press reported that 29 school districts in Arizona had issued mask mandates before the laws were passed.
Concerning critical race theory, the education department notes in teacher guidance on its website that the ban is no longer applicable, but it encourages teachers to use the "best practices for standards-based instruction." While the standards are adopted at the state level by the Arizona State Board of Education, it says, decisions on curriculum and instruction are made at the local level.
An Instagram post said the Arizona Department of Education issued a letter giving schools a "green light" to impose mask mandates and teach critical race theory.
An Arizona Supreme Court ruling voided state laws that barred school districts from enforcing mask mandates and teaching critical race theory.
The Arizona Department of Education letter informed schools of the ruling, but the agency didn’t give them the "green light" to implement mask mandates and teach critical race theory, and it didn’t have the authority to do so.
We rate this Mostly False.
Arizona Department of Education, email exchange with PolitiFact on Nov. 9, 2021
Kathy Hoffman, Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, tweet on Nov. 2, 2021
Arizona constitution, "Article IV, Section 13"
Arizona Department of Education, "Face Coverings Are Recommended for Everyone in K12"
Arizona Department of Education, "Understanding A.R.S. 15-717.02 regarding ‘prohibited instruction’ and its impact on teaching the History and Social Studies Standards" updated Nov. 2, 2021
Arizona Department of Health Services, "Guidance on masks in school"
Associated Press, "Arizona high court upholds ruling blocking school mask bans," Nov. 2, 2021
Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa County, "Arizona School Boards Association vs. State of Arizona," Sept. 27, 2021
Supreme Court of Arizona, "Arizona School Boards Association vs. State of Arizona," Nov. 2, 2021
Arizona Republic, "In sweeping ruling, Arizona judge finds ban on school mask mandates and other laws in budget unconstitutional," Sept. 27, 2021
Arizona Republic, "What school districts are doing now that Arizona's mask mandate ban ruled unconstitutional," Sept. 29, 2021
NPR, "Just Before Taking Effect, Arizona's School Mask Mandate Ban Ruled Unconstitutional," Sept. 27, 2021
KJZZ 91.5, "Arizona’s ban on school mask mandates is unconstitutional, judge rules," Sept. 27, 2021
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