By Jessica Mathews & Jon King /

A local intermediate school district has filed a federal lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration over a federal COVID mask and vaccination mandate.

The lawsuit was filed in Detroit District Court last week by several plaintiffs, including the Livingston Educational Service Agency, against the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary of Administration for Children and Families and Director of the Office of Head Start.

It asks that the Biden administration vaccine mandate be declared unconstitutional, alleging that “A vaccine mandate is simply not within the Secretary’s delegated authority.” The mandate requires all Head Start staff to wear masks and get fully vaccinated or risk losing program funding. A separate mandate that employers with 100 or more workers either make sure they were all vaccinated or get tested weekly was struck down earlier this month by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs argue they’ll lose staff, which will result in classroom and program closures. The complaint says Head Start children and families, a majority of whom live below the poverty line, will lose access to the Head Start services that they rely on for high-quality early childhood education, food, and childcare.

The lawsuit says the mandate will cause devastating and irreparable harm to the districts and those Head Start was created to serve. “Under a threat of terminated funding, Head Start programs are forced to comply with a mandate that means terminating or losing staff and relevant contractors and volunteers who are not vaccinated," states the lawsuit. "This will result in a reduction of Head Start services provided to qualifying children and families.”

The complaint further reads: “Livingston ESA takes several precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 including requiring classroom staff to wear a mask and students to wear a mask while in class. If a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19, they must quarantine for ten days. If there is a close contact with someone in the student’s household, the student must stay at home through the quarantine period plus an additional ten days of isolation. Since December 1, 2021, 73.3% of Livingston ESA employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 are vaccinated. At least 37 staff members at Livingston ESA remain unvaccinated. If Livingston ESA is forced to fire unvaccinated staff members, multiple classroom closures will occur. For every classroom that is closed, students would no longer be able to participate in Head Start.”

The suit notes that HHS “has never before mandated vaccination for Head Start staff, contractors, or volunteers—and not even for children enrolled in a Head Start program”.

Other plaintiffs listed include the Saginaw Intermediate School District, Walled Lake Consolidated District and Wayne-Westland Community Schools.

A request for comment on the lawsuit was made to LESA Superintendent Michael Hubert but was not returned.

A copy of the complaint is attached.