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Tipsheet

Pennsylvania School Board Members Ousted After Mandating Masks Have Been Reinstated

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Five Democrats who were removed from a Pennsylvania school board last week after voting to require masks in schools have been reinstated.

"Removal of school board members cripples the school district," Court of Common Pleas Judge William Mahon said Friday to a courtroom filled with more than 300 parents, teachers and community members, according to Patch.

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Mahon originally ordered the board members' removal on March 29 after their attorney failed to issue a timely response to a parent petition calling for their ouster. 

The petition was started in February by a West Chester Area School District parent after the five Democrats voted in favor of requiring masks in schools back in August. The parent contends that, because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared the state-imposed mask mandate unconstitutional in December, the board had no authority to require all students to wear masks.

But the judge vacated his initial ruling just three days after it had been issued. He said Friday's ruling was unrelated to the petition filed over the face-covering requirement.

The lawyer representing the school board, Kenneth Roos, said he was unaware that the deadline to file a response to the petition was as early as it was. He told the judge he thought the deadline was in early April when the actual deadline was March 15.

"It was not our intent to disrespect the court," Roos said.

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Roos had submitted a motion Tuesday night asking Mahon to reconsider his initial order. A response will still need to be filed by April 4.

The individuals returning to their positions on the school board, at least for now, are president Sue Tiernan, and directors Joyce Chester, Karen Herrmann, Kate Shaw and Daryle Durnell.

The case will now be evaluated on the merits of the argument of the parent who filed the petition. The parent is representing herself in court.

"I would rather win this petition on its merits rather than on a technicality," the parent told WHYY.

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