Hempfield principals consider joining lawsuits over school mask mandate


Members of the Hempfield area school board are considering joining a lawsuit or filing their own against a state-issued mask warrant earlier this month.

In a 7-1 vote on Monday night, council members asked attorney Michael Korns to gather information on already filed lawsuits that are ongoing in the court system. The lawsuits were largely filed earlier this month after the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a mask warrant for students and staff at K-12 schools.

The board, along with Korns, will meet in executive session at a later date to decide how they will proceed. Board member Diane Ciabattoni voted against the motion. Board member Sonya Brajdic was absent from the meeting. A date was not set immediately for which members would meet in executive session to discuss their options.

“I don’t think that in the meantime that means we don’t fight for our children; we want to get the right information. … I think the timing and the decision (of the tenure) is terrible, but I want to make sure that we are doing the right thing for the school district and that we have the right information, ”said Paul Ward, member of the school board. ‘administration.

Several other board members, including Vince DeAugustine and Scott Learn, agreed with Ward.

“I am personally for (the trial),” said Jennifer Bretz, board member. “I am for the choice of parents. I remain firmly in favor of Parents ‘Choice for Masking and support any action we can legally take to support the restoration of parents’ right to choose. … We have your best interests. Our hands are tied and we are doing our best.

Board member Mike Alfery added, “If we have the opportunity to join one of the trials, I’m 100% in favor of it. “

Ciabattoni, the board member who voted against the motion, said she was “just not comfortable at the moment” to move forward with a decision.

Several lawsuits are underway across the state, most of which were filed shortly after the warrant went into effect.

Parents from three regional school districts – Butler Area and Slippery Rock in Butler County and Wyomissing Area in Berks County – were among the plaintiffs who filed a September 3 lawsuit against the warrant. Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Jake Corman, R-Center, Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford and two private Christian schools are part of the lawsuit.

The Associated Press says the lawsuit claims Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam broke state law when she ordered masks to be worn in all public and private schools in Pennsylvania. , as well as in daycare centers. He claims the masking order is invalid because it has not gone through the state regulatory review process.

Further, he accused the Wolf administration of trying to circumvent recently approved constitutional amendments limiting a governor’s emergency powers.

A second lawsuit was filed days later by a group of parents with children in the Parkland and Central Bucks school districts, among others. According to Lehigh Valley LiveThe lawsuit, filed against Beam, says the warrant does not allow religious or philosophical objections and overrides the rights of local school districts.

He asks the Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to dismiss the mask warrant.

The decision from the Hempfield board members came a week after more than 60 students and parents, the majority of whom were maskless, crowded into the Hempfield Area High School auditorium, asking board members to help them fight against the mandate. About 30 parents and students returned on Monday, several asking the district to join the lawsuits.

Among those who spoke was John Ventre, a resident of Hempfield, a Republican who announced his candidacy for governor in June.

“We are lobbying you,” said Ventre. “Push the problem up the ladder. Join the prosecution.

Megan Tomasic is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .


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