LONOKE COUNTY, Ark. – A judge in Lonoke County has decided not to grant a temporary restraining order requested by parents, keeping a mask mandate in the Cabot School District in place.

Judge Barbara Elmore wrote that only one of the parents who brought a lawsuit seeking the order actually had children attending district schools and that the parent had not “exhausted her remedies” through the school to seek an exemption for her kids.

During a hearing on Thursday, attorneys for the parents argued that the school board did not have the authority to issue a mandate, saying that such a policy infringed on parents’ fundamental liberties to raise their children how they see fit.

Cabot superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman countered that the district values the opinions of parents but added he felt the district is within its rights to make this kind of rule to protect students and staff.

“Unfortunately, in this situation, we disagree on what direction we need to go,” Thurman said Thursday. “And the school district is acting in what we feel like is the best interest of all students.”