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Hickman man wants $100M from Norris for missing child's first grade year

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Norris

Norris Public Schools

A Hickman man is suing the Norris School District for $100 million — more than three times its annual budget — claiming he missed his child's first grade school year because of the district's mask mandate and a no-trespass order.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, Conan Thomas alleges Norris violated his constitutional rights by requiring masks last August before the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department established its own mandate.

Thomas, who does not list an attorney, also claimed a no-trespass order handed down to him from the district in September prevented him from experiencing his child's first grade year. The order, which barred him from school property, came after Thomas was denied a religious exemption from the district's mask rules and communicated his disdain through letters, emails and phone calls to school board members.

According to a letter sent to Thomas from Brian Maschmann, the district's associate superintendent, the messages became "increasingly hostile and threatening towards the District and its staff members."

Officials determined that Thomas posed a threat to the district and barred him from Norris property and school-sponsored activities during the 2021-22 school year.

Thomas, who says in the lawsuit that he is a combat veteran and volunteer firefighter, claims the district aggravated his post-traumatic stress disorder and cast him in a "bad light" in the Norris community.

"A percentage of my community which I selflessly serve deem me a violent threat to my (child's) school," he wrote in the suit.

He also said the district refused to comply with a records request and violated the Open Meetings Act by not allowing him to attend board meetings. Through a Freedom of Information Act filing, Thomas sought emails between Norris administrators and the board concerning him. The district determined it would cost more than $17,000 to complete the request.

Thomas, who is also running for Lancaster County sheriff on the Libertarian ticket, is asking for $100 million in damages for the lost school year. The annual budget for Norris, located 12 miles south of Lincoln, is just more than $30 million.

Superintendent John Schwartz said the district does not comment on pending legal matters.

Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @HammackLJS

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