FILE - Illinois school bus, masks, students, 2020

Elementary school students sit on board a school bus after attending in-person classes at school in Wheeling, Ill., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. 

(The Center Square) – About 90 teachers and school staff are suing their school districts and Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration over COVID-19 mandates such as vaccines, testing and masks.

The lawsuit poised for Sangamon County Circuit Court comes from attorney Thomas DeVore, who has challenged Pritzker's orders around the state. It seeks judgments against requiring vaccines, masks, testing or exclusion policies without orders of quarantine.

The 90 plaintiffs are looking for action against 22 different school districts, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Board of Education and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

One district, Springfield District 186, is being sued by teacher Kadence Koen. Koen made headlines for refusing to show proof she received the vaccine and refusing to test for weeks. After being given an ultimatum of losing her job, she said she had gotten the vaccine months before it was mandated.

“My stand all the way along has been anti-mandate,” Koen told WMAY last month. “I am against the idea of one man being able to tell an entire population what they have to do as far as their medical decisions.”

District 186 teacher Kimberly Smoot is also a plaintiff. She told the Springfield School Board in October she will continue to test, but worried it’s a slippery slope.

“First we must test, then you take away the option to test and make us get the vaccine,” Smoot said. “Next, that’s not enough and we must get a booster according to your schedule. When we give up our rights, even if it's little by little, we will never get them back.”

The lawsuit alleges the vaccination or testing program violates the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

“The educators object to the vaccination and testing of the coronavirus as both health care services violate their moral conscience,” according to the lawsuit. “Should the educators object to these proposed health care services, the law prohibits the defendants from discriminating against them.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed changes to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act that spurred tens of thousands of witness slips in opposition.

Pritzker's office said the law, which doesn’t take effect until June 1, 2022, clarifies “the legislative intent of the Health Care Right of Conscience Act so that it cannot be abused or misinterpreted to jeopardize workplace safety.”

Other school boards that are defendants in the lawsuit are: North Mac CUSD #34, Waterloo CUSD #5, Plainfield School District #202, Cumberland CUSD #77, Jasper County CUSD #1, Belvidere CUSD #100, Yorkville CUSD #115, Mascoutah CUSD #19, Decatur School District #61, Highland CUSD #5, City of Chicago School District #299, Marion CUSD #2, Roanoke Benson CUSD #60, Arlington Heights School District #25, Eureka CUSD #140, Staunton CUSD #6, The Board of Education of Community CUSD #308, Crystal Lake #47, Triad CUSD #2, and Edwardsville CUSD #7.

Associate Editor

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.