Just days after a stunning ruling that would have swept five members of the West Chester Area School Board out of office, Common Pleas Court Judge William Mahon Friday reversed course and permitted them to stay—for now.
Superintendent Robert Sokolowski sent this note to parents: “Earlier today, The Chester County Court of Common Pleas heard oral arguments for reconsideration of the order issued on Tuesday, March 29, to remove five WCASD school board members. The judge presiding over this legal matter then ruled from the bench to vacate his earlier order and has since issued a written order as well.”
He promised to keep parents updated and thanked them for their “continued patience and support.”
As the Delaware Valley Journal previously reported, parent Beth Ann Rosica, executive director of Back to School PA, a group that fought to keep kids in classrooms in the aftermath of the pandemic, had filed a petition to have the board removed who voted to keep kids in masks despite a state Supreme Court ruling.
As of Monday, Kenneth Roos, WASD solicitor, filed a motion to dismiss Rosica’s petition.
Previously, Rosica explained her position, saying, “Our position is that this is a legal question, plain and simple. Either the board members have the legal authority to mandate masks, or they do not. We believe that they do not have the authority, and we hope that the judge agrees with us. We believe that is important to pursue this petition in order to hold the Board members accountable for their actions and to hopefully prevent our children from being forcibly masked again.”
Rosica said the judge’s decision to order the school board members removal was based on lawyers for the district not meeting a deadline to file a response to her petition.
On Friday, Mahon “spent about 30 minutes questioning the attorneys as to why they did not reply timely. He did not understand how I could interpret his order correctly and they could not. Once they acknowledged that they were mistaken, the judge talked about how it would not be fair to the board members to be removed when the attorneys made the mistake,” she said.
“So now the petition will proceed in the regular fashion.” Said Rosica. “The good news for us is that if we prevail it will be on merit and not on a technicality, which overall is a better outcome. I was pleased that the judge recognized that I had followed all the steps correctly even when the attorneys had not.”