EAST ROCKHILL – A resident of Perkasie says the Pennridge School Board email sent to families in the district and posted on the district’s Facebook page regarding the council’s disagreement with the state requiring face
EAST ROCKHILL – A resident of Perkasie says the Pennridge School Board email sent to families in the district and posted on the district’s Facebook page regarding the council’s disagreement with the state requiring face masks in schools was a violation of the state’s Sunshine Act, also known as the Open Meetings Act.
The Sunshine Act “requires agencies to deliberate and take official action on agency affairs in an open and public meeting. according to information on the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records website.
John Seager said he filed a private criminal complaint about the alleged Sunshine Act violation on September 8 in New Britain District Court and was told it was being referred to the office of the Bucks County District Attorney for review.
“Since this is a dispute, the district can only comment to say that it does not agree with the allegations of the complaint and believes that the district has complied with all relevant laws. . He intends to vigorously defend the case if it goes to trial, ”said school board president Bill Krause in response to an email request for comment.
The mandate for state masks was announced on August 31 and went into effect on September 7. Pennridge’s board, which previously approved masks to be optional, responded by the September 2 email, signed by Krause and vice-chairman of the board Joan Cullen.
“The governor’s order deprives local school boards of any leeway to consider changes to their health and safety plans to adapt the governor’s order to the specific conditions of the district,” the email said.
“It is quite clear that the Governor’s Order in Council goes against the wishes of the majority of the community of Pennridge. However, since the governor’s decree would directly penalize PSD and its employees, PSD is forced to implement the governor’s decree from September 7 until there is a legal challenge to the governor’s order upheld. by a court, ”he said. “Please know that, because the Council believes that the Governor has exceeded the authority granted to him by the laws on which he relies, the Council will actively consider opportunities to participate in any litigation brought by school districts seeking to challenge the governor’s unilateral imposition of these without regard to local control of schools.
The email also pointed out that the mask’s mandate allows exceptions for medical and mental health conditions and provided a form in which parents could request an exemption so that their child is not required to wear a mask. school.
“You are not required to provide a note from a doctor or psychologist with this exemption request,” the post read.
The board, which last met on August 23, had no public meeting between the state’s announcement and the email.
“The board issued a pretty clear and specific policy regarding parental exemptions and they didn’t have a meeting. There was no public process there and from what I can see, it’s a violation of the Sunshine Act, ”Seager said.
Seager said he also passed information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education that by not requiring a doctor’s note for the exemption form, the board was contradicting its own written policy and state directives.
On September 3, the Education Department amended its Mask Mandate FAQ, adding a line to the answer to whether individuals are required to prove an exception request, Seager said.
The line says, “School entities should follow their established processes to determine student eligibility under these laws, including any medical documentation they would normally require.”
“What they’re supposed to do is do the same thing they do when they have another medical problem,” Seager said, “and a good example is vaccination and that’s covered by Pennridge policies. don’t allow parents to send in their notes to exempt from medical requirements. They need a doctor’s note, and they haven’t made it here. “
District policy states: “A student shall be exempt from vaccination requirements whose parent / guardian objects in writing to such vaccination on religious or moral grounds or whose physical condition is certified by the physician in writing. of the pupil contraindicates vaccination. “
The council’s actions put the health of students at risk and could cause local taxpayers to pay more if state funding is lost, Seager said.
“Obviously I’m not speaking for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, but if they don’t follow state rules, you’d think that at some point the Department of Education is going to do something. something more than just sending them a stern letter, “he said.
Students have to come first, he said, and uses a driving illustration as an example of what happened in the mask debate.
“Just to make it clear, if you’re driving on the highway and you see a speed limit that says 55, it doesn’t matter how many people in the backseat tell you to go to 80. You can ‘Don’t. don’t, or if you do, you’ll get arrested and you could endanger people, ”he said.
“The speed limit here is the speed limit and you have a bunch of people sitting in the back seat saying, no go as fast as you want, I got a note here from my parents saying it’s okay. well, or I got this piece of paper that they wave and they found, “Seager said.” It doesn’t work that way. We all have to follow the law, the rules, and if we don’t like them there are ways to change them, but the law is the law. ”