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Chester Co. Judge Allows Cases to Advance Against Two School Boards Over Mask Policies

Common Pleas Judge William P. Mahon permitted recall petitions against the West Chester Area School Board and Downingtown Area School Board to go forward. It is the first hurdle in recalling members of the two Chester County school boards over COVID mask requirements.

The school districts have 20 days to file their responses.

“We are pleased that the judge has ordered the West Chester School Board to file a response explaining why they should not be removed from office,” said resident Beth Ann Rosica, executive director of Back to School PA PAC. Her organization supports school board candidates who promise to avoid lockdowns and keep kids in school. “It shows that the claims made have, at least, some level of merit. 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.”

Shannon Grady, who filed the petition against Downingtown, said that “the biggest challenge” was figuring out the rules since neither of the petitioners is a lawyer and they filed the petitions without legal counsel.

“We’re just moms,” said Grady. “It’s really encouraging that it hasn’t been thrown out. We’re optimistic.”

The petitions seek to remove the school board members for “neglect of duty, regarding imposing the mask mandates. The parents are “trying to hold (the board members) accountable.”

Grady said she is seeking justice for every child. By making children wear masks, “you are harming children,” she said. At public meetings, parents have spoken to the school boards, and “they ignore you.”

“I sent my district very amicable notices, and they did not respond,” she said. “The crux is you don’t have authority (to impose mask mandates),” she said since the state Supreme Court ruled the state Board of Health did not. “School boards don’t have that authority.”

Meanwhile, Downingtown Area School District spokeswoman Jennifer Shealey said, “Because this is a case that is currently in front of the courts, we are unable to comment at this time.”

Similarly, a spokesperson for West Chester said the district would not comment on “an ongoing legal matter.”

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