Judge Orders the Removal of 5 School Board Members Who Voted for a Mask Mandate (All Democrats) in the West Chester Area School District in Pennsylvania Even After it was Ruled Unconstitutional
The order placed by the judge comes after a parent, Beth Ann Rosica, filed a petition to the West Chester Area School District in February after the school board voted to keep the mask mandate even after the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled the mandates as Unconstitutional.
“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,” Beth Ann Rosica stated. “When they refused, that is when we made the decision to file the petition.”
The order says that all five of those who voted to keep the mandates, all Democrats, must vacate their positions from the board. Their lawyer, Kenneth Roos, said that they have all submitted a motion for reconsideration of the order Tuesday night (March 29th). The reconsideration should have been accepted for filing today, so we’ll wait to see what occurs from this.
The decision from the judge of the Court of Common Pleas states that “the removal of the board members named in the petition was a ‘procedural result’ and does not address any of the allegations made in the complaint.”
A statement from the school district Superintendent Dr. Robert Sokolowski notes that “special counsel to the district is in the process of preparing a substantive response on behalf of those school board members named in the petition.” The Superintendent told the district families and community members that since the legal matter is still ongoing that he would not be able to provide further comments, but would update everyone when possible.
Judge Mahon gave the school board and the parent, Rosica, seven days to submit official recommendations for the replacement school board members.
Her petition in West Chester Area School District isn’t an isolated endeavor.
Rosica said that there are four more Chester County school districts that have also filed similar petitions (Downingtown, Tredyffrin/Easttown, Great Valley, and Coatesville). There haven’t been any rulings put place yet on those other petitions yet, but parent Shannon Grady of Downingtown says she fully believes in the same outcome. Grady is the original drafter of the petition language which is based on a 1949 provision in the Pennsylvania School Code. This provision isn’t well-known, but it directly speaks to the issue at hand and says that if a the school board members “refuse or neglect to perform” duties omposed upon them, that all it takes is 10 residents of the community/district to file for their removal.
Grady believes this provision and her petition language create a template for others to follow and has seen no case law showing anything like this has been used in the past.
“I’ve shared it with people from around the state already, because all the [relevant] codes are Pennsylvania state codes,” she explained. “I’m not trying to ruin school board members’ lives or sue them for money. It’s just… know your place.”
The school districts are just not responding and not listening, so the only thing we have left to do is to recall the board members. We don’t believe they have the legal authority to (mask the kids). Our kids have been masked in school for a year and a half. It’s not acceptable. They are not their parents and they don’t get to make these decisions for our children.– Beth Ann Rosica to the Daily Local Newspaper, February 2022