Rep. Griffey has a message for school districts

Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) speaks to a supporter at House Republican Caucus meeting in Nashville on Jan. 14, 2020 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Rep. Bruce Griffey has taken it upon himself to tell elected local school boards, special school districts, and education leaders around the state what their COVID-19 policies should be. The Paris Republican has sent a letter across the state (and copied it to all House and Senate members) declaring it “potentially” unlawful for districts to require face coverings or “create alternate learning environments for unvaccinated students, segregate such students, or treat them any differently.”

UPDATE: Griffey made some changes to the letter and got 11 GOP colleagues to sign on, including former Speaker Glen Casada of Franklin and Reps. Todd Warner of Chapel Hill, Jerry Sexton of Bean Station, and Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster).

Shelby County Schools is the only district in the state that has said it will require students to wear face coverings in the upcoming semester. Gov. Bill Lee said at a press conference last week that he oppose the move.

Read the whole (updated) Griffey letter here:

Dear Tennessee School Boards, Special School Districts and Directors:

As the 2021-2022 academic year is fast approaching, Tennessee families are anticipating whether or not masks will be required in our Tennessee public schools. For many, this is a contentious issue and one that crosses a wide spectrum of policy areas such as public health, parental rights, the role of government, and the constitutional rights of every citizen.

While we do acknowledge that there is a legitimate state interest in the safety of all Tennesseans, as legislators and elected officials, we must ensure that we continue to maintain the public trust in our government by above all else upholding the laws of our state. Citizens should rightfully expect that our state government will not exceed its authority by making rules that have no basis in state law or in our Tennessee Constitution.

On April 30, 2021, a Williamson County Chancery Court issued an order in Citizens v Golden (Case No. 20CV-49753) which carried an alternative ruling on the merits of the case indicating that requirements for face-coverings in schools have no basis in state law. The ruling stated, “The Court cannot find, as a matter of law, Defendants have acted within the authority given to them by the legislature when enacting face­ covering requirements,” and, ” … continued enforcement of face-covering requirements is not viable.”

Additionally, House Bill 13 was passed this year adding a new section to our Tennessee Code Annotated in Title 68, Chapter 5, Part 1 stating the following:

The governor shall not issue an executive order, a state agency or department shall not promulgate a rule, and a political subdivision of this state shall not promulgate, adopt, or enforce an ordinance or resolution, that requires a person to receive an immunization, vaccination, or injection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus or any variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

As this has now been signed into law by Governor Bill Lee and mady effective as of May 25, 2021, a vaccine, immunization, or injection for COVID-19 may not be required by any public school in the state of Tennessee for students or staff. Regardless of any recommendations or guidelines set forth by the CDC, WHO, or any health official, it must be understood that state law now prohibits a vaccine for COVID-19 to be mandated by the state, a county, a municipality, or any state agency in Tennessee.

To be clear, the legislature has not granted any authority to local school boards or superintendents to require face-coverings or promulgate any rules related to healthcare or the prevention of communicable diseases. As such, any attempts to create alternate learning environments for unvaccinated students, segregate such students, or treat them any differently would be potentially unlawful in the state of Tennessee.

We value our educators, and we value our students. Last year was hard on everyone. But our students suffered most of all. This year, let us focus on our students and ensure that they are our priority by providing them with the kind of education they so richly deserve. In this year’s special legislative session, we passed legislation that focused on those goals and provided increased resources to educators with the tools they need for a successful school year. Let’s lead the nation this year in putting our students and families first. We are the Volunteer State.

/signed/

Representative Bruce Griffey

Representative Bud Hulsey

Representative Tim Rudd

Representative Jerry Sexton

Representative Jay Reedy

Representative Rick Eldridge

Representative Terri Lynn Weaver

Representative Lowell Russell

Representative Mike Sparks

Representative Todd Warner

Representative Glen Casada

Representative Kirk Haston

57 Responses to Rep. Griffey has a message for school districts

  • Avatar
    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Hey! Some people have Golden Calfs. Some people have face masks. Common Griffey, give ’em a break!

    • Avatar
      Taxpayer #314 says:

      Interesting that the Headline before this story is the article with Valentine being in the ICU with Covid. Some folks just don’t get the connection between the two articles.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      “Unvaccinated in Hospital With Disease Vaccination Could Have Ameliorated” was the story there, “Mandate For Useless Masks Limited” is the story here. There is no connection.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Unvaccinated in hospital after Doubting the vaccine publicly WAS and IS the story, no matter how you want to play with your wording Stuart. Just the same old…one more conservative overstepping his bounds in the “command and control department” in this article. Commanding people he has no control over to do certain things is the story here too. You just have that conservative warped vision that leads to so many mistaken positions.

        • Avatar
          Erika says:

          Um, how exactly does this translate to a conservative overstepping his bounds? The whole point is them saying “these things cannot be mandated.” Which is the exact OPPOSITE of someone overstepping. It’s taking away the possibility of someone ELSE overstepping…..

  • Avatar
    Molly Mann says:

    Let’s not take “recommendations or guidelines set forth by the CDC, WHO, or any health official”, let’s take recommendations from talk show hosts.

  • Avatar
    LeeAnn C says:

    Follow your pediatricians advice for your children. It’s not up to the school district to dictate health practices for your child.

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      Don’t children have to be immunized in TN or have a medical doctor provide a medical exemption? We have roughly 60% of TN adults who will not vaccinate their children so IF vaccination were to be required iwe will need doctors to provide a signed medical exemption for the majority of kids.

      Not gonna happen.

      • Avatar
        Jonathan Swift says:

        Great point, Marle. I would love to see the new law challenged in court. If COVID vaccinations are not required, no other vaccinations should be required. Same for the medical exemptions.

      • Avatar
        LeeAnn C. says:

        Parents and their pediatricians can decide without a mandate. I’m not familiar with that 60% statistic. Is that specific to the COVID vaccine or vaccination/immunizations in general?

  • Avatar
    Rick Tillis says:
    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      The American Conservative Union has says Bruce is an 85%er. That’s all we need to know Rick. Please don’t be distracted.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Yeah, it doesn’t matter if he is crooked or has broken the law, just keep electing him. That is the conservative way!

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    The Tennessee legislature fell short. They should have removed any authority of the Health Departments or Mayors or Commissions to set medical restrictions.
    #LeeTheTyrant

    • Avatar
      Cannoneer2 says:

      So that used car salesmen, insurance salesmen, bicycle salesmen and washed up athletes can set medical restrictions??

      • Avatar
        James White says:

        Only for themselves and their private property.

      • Avatar
        Erika says:

        Nobody has to set restrictions. For God’s sake (literally), this is a FREE COUNTRY! The Constitution is still the law of the land and we are sovereign over ourselves. No government entity can constitutionally tell us what to do with our own bodies. Doesn’t matter the reason. If people want a dictatorship there are a bunch of places they can move to.

  • Avatar
    SuzeO says:

    Glad he is taking a stand for our freedoms. Hope the rest of the legislature will support his initiative on this! Gov. Lee needs to call the legislature into session now to make this ruling!

    • Avatar
      Cryan says:

      Governor Lee is still vaccinating children without parental consent, so I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  • Avatar
    Sidney Bennett says:

    When I was a child, vaccines were required for Polio and Smallpox in order to attend public school. there were no vaccines for Measles Mumps or Rubella. Children died from these diseases. Once the vaccine was released in order to be allowed to attend one had to present proof of their children’s vaccines. That wasn’t illegal then. When did hat law change?

    • Avatar
      James White says:

      the creep of government control….. slow but sure….

    • Avatar
      MARLE says:

      TN requires vaccines UNLESS a medical doctor signs off on a “medical exemption”. If Covid vaccines are required When they Become fully approved (as opposed to Emergency Use Authorization) then doctors will be beset with parental requests and we’ll see how physicians handle that.

    • Avatar
      Bill says:

      Don’t think it has.

    • Avatar
      Missy S says:

      Polio and smallpox vaccines actually work.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Yes, and neither one got to the point where there was “herd immunity” in the USA.

    • Avatar
      SuzeO says:

      But when you were a child, those vaccines were approved by the FDA after much testing and research! Covid vaccines are not tested for the length of time that others are and have not yet been approved by the FDA.

      • Avatar
        James White says:

        And not tested on animals (they died)

      • Avatar
        MARLE says:

        I thought Warp Speed was something Trump and his supporters (overwhelming in TN) bragged about All The Time. Why didn’t you all speak up and tell him not to waste the money b/c anything less than 3, 4 or 5 years in approval was DANGEROUS.

        • Avatar
          Erika says:

          Because the other option was indefinite Lockdowns for a virus that had been pushed due to false positives from faulty PCR tests (the FDA has actually just pulled those tests for that reason, BTW. Look it up). At least this way, we can all be freed from the totalitarian state and people have a choice as to whether they want to take it or not. I definitely won’t.

          Also… Why exactly are you giving snark about the fact that we don’t trust an experimental treatment modality that’s never been used before and has never made it through clinical trials? Do you not “trust the science” of how vaccines are normally tested and produced?

  • Avatar
    Brian says:

    Great Job. I like to see positive legislation like this in our state.

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    Where does one find the operating budget for the General Assembly, year to year? I suspect that the budget and personnel levels increase each year, regardless of what is happening in the rest of state government. They are out of control. What gives Griffey the right to do this?

  • Avatar
    Jason Wallflower says:

    Looks like RINO Bruce Griffey is off the reservation again.

    Who does this guy think he is? This is not how things are supposed to be done.

    • Avatar
      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Jason, why do you call Bruce with his ACU rating of 85% a “RINO”? Do you know what a RINO is? If everybody has his own definition for words or expressions in a language, that will make communication very, very difficult.

      • Avatar
        Cryan says:

        Look in the mirror, Stu. You’ve repeatedly disparaged the leader of the Republican Party, President Donald John Trump, and the 87% of Republicans who plan to vote for him in 2024. You called them Branch Trumpidians.

        You support Beth Harwell. You supported Never-Trumper Chip Roy over Elise Stefanik.

        I couldn’t think of a better example of a RINO than you.

      • Avatar
        Taxpayer #314 says:

        Stuart, you yourself have all sorts of your own strange “definitions and expressions” that make communicating with real live Tennesseans difficult, But you don’t cut any of your posts short.

        • Avatar
          Stuart I. Anderson says:

          Strange but perfectly comprehensible Taxpayer insofar as I use words in a way that conforms to general usage and dictionary definition. Bruce Griffey may be “off the reservation” but he isn’t a RINO with an ACU rating of 85% any more than you are a monarchist or a conservative after having long established your left-wing credentials in this forum.

          Most probably Jason doesn’t know what he is talking about and just uses “RINO” because he senses it is bad and he doesn’t like Griffey. In case Jason is using “RINO” in a special way not apparent from what he has written he should tell the reader what the heck he is talking about just as he would if he called Bruce Griffey a “ham sandwich” or anything else Griffey obviously is not.

          • Avatar
            Cryan says:

            Donald Trump won the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) straw-poll with 70% of the vote — the largest margin in history for an open primary.

            You’re a RINO and a cuckservative. The ACU and Heritage doesn’t matter in Republican politics to anyone but you, Chip Roy, Liz Cheney, and Mitt Romney.

          • Avatar
            Cryan says:

            I have to admit that “Branch Trumpidian” is pretty funny. But aren’t they more like Scientologists? Maybe L. Don Trumpard

            I don’t know. You’re pretty good with nicknames. Think of something.

          • Avatar
            MARLE says:

            Kevin McCarthy lifetime heritage: 61%
            Liz Chaney lifetime heritage: 80%

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Quite right MARLE but we’re talking WYOMING here and if we have Marvelous Mark Green at 96%, Tim Burchett 97%, DesJarlais 89%, etc. Cheney at 80% is pretty thin gruel indeed and she is a pain in the ass to boot. And of course, as you rightly point out and Tucker has mentioned a number of times McCarthy is totally unacceptable. Happy to report the House Freedom Caucus is challenging McCarthy to begin proceeds to Vacate the Chair in the House in order to get rid of Pelosi as a prelude to getting rid of McCarthy.

          • Avatar
            Taxpayer #314 says:

            Yes, we now make exceptions for certain states!

          • Avatar
            Taxpayer #314 says:

            And besides, Cheney is a “girl.”

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Actually she is a woman having passed out of puberty some time ago, but more importantly don’t you believe women and certainly girls can be pains in the ass?

          • Avatar
            Cryan says:

            Watch that mouth, vulgarian.

          • Avatar
            Taxpayer #314 says:

            I was mock quoting you Stuart, with the “girl” word. That’s how you might refer to her in a condescending way, when she doesn’t agree with you.

          • Avatar
            Stuart I. Anderson says:

            LOVE IT!!! A guy with whom I share nothing in terms of a world view, with whom I can’t agree on the time of day telling the world what I “might” say to which I say, as I have had the occasion to do so often, “WRONG YET AGAIN TAXPAYER!” In point of fact just as I would NEVER call a grown man a “boy,” I would NEVER call a grown woman a “girl.” Sorry to disappoint Taxpayer.

          • Avatar
            Jason Wallflower says:

            RINO: See “Stuart I. Anderson” for example.

            Used in a sentence: Bruce Griffey is not an actual conservative and is a RINO.

  • Avatar
    Phillip Lassiter says:

    Wait-what? Someone just told me the Olympics were going on? Can anyone confirm?

  • Avatar
    James White says:

    I saw this truth poste: To Defeat Delta Variant, Experts Recommend Doing All The Things That Didn’t Work The First Time.

    • Avatar
      Taxpayer #314 says:

      Yep, just keep playing stupid and see where that gets you? Where did it get Phil? Every day the anti- vaxers are regretting their decisions as they enter the local ER and find out that it is FULL and they can NOT breathe. Nothing gets your attention faster than not being able to breathe!!

  • Avatar
    Cannoneer2 says:

    According to the Tennessean, Penny Schwinn says that masks in school are a “local decision”. How dare she!

    • Avatar
      Cryan says:

      If kids start dying the General Assembly will let Knox and Hamilton counties have a mask mandate — just like they let them out of the voucher scheme. Oh well, Shelby and Davidson are accustomed to “conservative” Big Government control.

  • Avatar
    hal rounds says:

    It is not important whether the vaccine works. What’s important is how we are governed. Shall we choose a nation that has liberty (a realm where we choose our own path and live with our own consequences), or one where we assign some bureaucracy the power to be the “experts” who save us from supposed foolishness?

    If it is to submit to those who order us to not do what they deem foolish, then all we need to realize is that the ones we have yielded that authority to is now our master.

  • Avatar
    Taxpayer #314 says:

    Hal, you sound like all the rest of the Anti-Vaxers that are now on ventilators in the ICU overfilled hospitals. Do you think all the people that have died unvaccinated recently have felt real good about their government as they took their last breath? Only the living can complain about their “master.” No one has a “right to infect others.”