A Pennsylvania judge has ordered the removal of more than half of the members of the West Chester School Board for voting to mandate masks “at the beginning of the school year.”
On Tuesday, Chester County Judge William Mahon ordered the dismissal of five Democratic School Board members for defying a statute regarding mask mandates and failing to respond to a petition that parents filed.
Judge Mahon found that the Board members willfully defied a December 2021 order by the State Supreme Court to end the “state of emergency” mask mandate. The State Supreme Court found that the order was “unconstitutional.”
The dismissal of Board members follows a failure to respond to a February petition brought forward by Beth Ann Rosica, a parent, former English Teacher, and Executive Director of Back to School PA,.
Roscia argued that the Board “had no right to force students to wear masks,” according to The Daily Mail.
The five Board members noted in Rosica’s filing were given 20 days to respond to her legal complaint.
In ordering the five Democratic members of the Board to be “removed from office,” Judge William Mahon wrote that his decision came after there was “no response” to the petition by the school district or its counsel, according to a WHYY News report.
Rosica explained to WHYY News: “Once the Supreme Court declared that was unconstitutional, we implored our School Board, we asked and asked and begged and pleaded and made comments to lift the mask mandate, and they refused.”
“When they refused,” Rosica continued, “that is when we made the decision to file the petition.”
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, an excerpt of Rosica’s petition, filed with fellow parent Shannon Grady, reads: “I did not believe they had the legal authority to mask our children. I want to ensure they will never be forcibly masked again.”
In researching what could be done to ensure the welfare of school children, Grady found a code stating she could petition to remove Board members “for failure to organize or neglect of duty.” The rule states that “any ten [or less] resident taxpayers” can file a petition for removal, and the members would have 20 days to respond.
According to Fox News, Kenneth Roos, since the ruling the Board members’ lawyer submitted a motion for the decision to be reconsidered. The Board will hold the motion for reconsideration on Friday.
Superintendent Dr. Robert Sokolowski, who supports mask mandates for students, minimized the Judge’s ruling, saying the board members’ removal was “procedural” and “does not address any of the allegations made in the complaint.”
“While we do not have all of the answers at this time, please be assured that the West Chester Area School District and I remain deeply committed to the mission of educating and inspiring the best in our students,” Sokolowski said.
Meanwhile, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the remaining Board members and Rosica have seven days to submit five replacement recommendations for the “unexpired terms” of the dismissed members.
Similar petitions are pending in schools across the Pennsylvania School District. According to Rosica, these include Downingtown, Great Valley, Tredyffrin/Easttown, and Coatesville.
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