Education

Unmasked Victory for Anti-Mask Cherry Creek School Board Candidate

Schumé Navarro unmasked.
Schumé Navarro unmasked. Courtesy of Schumé Navarro
Schumé Navarro hasn't been elected to the Cherry Creek School Board — not yet, anyway. But she won a significant victory on October 7, when a judge granted a preliminary injunction regarding her lawsuit against the Cherry Creek School District, which had banned her from participating in candidate forums without a mask.

As a result, she was able to participate mask-free in an October 7 forum. And at 10:40 p.m. yesterday, she wrote this on her Facebook page: "It was a good day. Happy to be able to participate. I wish I had in-person access the whole time, would’ve been really amazing. Luckily tonight was a win all around."

Navarro, whose lawsuit was filed in late September by Lakewood's Public Trust Institute, calls for "medical freedom in terms of vaccine/mask mandates" — and the complaint contends that she can't wear a face-covering for health reasons. She suffers from a "psychological disorder stemming from severe child abuse incidents that included suffocation," it states. "This disability causes her to panic and have substantial difficulty concentrating when her mouth or nose is covered."

Additionally, she's said to have "a nasal deformity that makes it difficult for Mrs. Navarro to breathe even when not wearing a face covering. Essentially, only one of Mrs. Navarro’s nostrils works, and even that nostril has limited functionality. Wearing a face covering exacerbates her breathing difficulties."


Navarro's case was assigned to Judge Daniel D. Domenico of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, and that was a big break in her favor. Domenico was appointed to the bench by then-President Donald Trump in 2017, so it's no surprise that his fifteen-page order is the legal equivalent of a slam dunk for the plaintiff.

One section reads: "No doubt the District and the public have a strong interest in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. But the potential transmission risk from one unmasked attendee seated on a stage with substantial social distancing from members of the public, students and other candidates seems small. At this stage of the pandemic, many businesses are now permitting customers to patronize indoor settings without a mask. On the other hand, Ms. Navarro has a strong interest in being allowed to participate fully and on equal footing in these forums alongside the other school board candidates. What is more, the District and the public also have an interest in equal participation by school board candidates on the eve of an election. The Court finds the balance of harms weighs in Ms. Navarro’s favor."

According to the Cherry Creek School District website, last night's forum was the last on the schedule. Now it's up to the voters to decide if they want to give Navarro a larger platform from which to espouse her views; the election is November 2.

Click to read the Schumé Navarro preliminary injunction order.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts