WARREN (Erie News Now) – A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday requiring the Warren County School District to enforce Pennsylvania’s mask mandate unless parents can provide a medical excuse for their students.
It comes after nine parents filed a lawsuit Monday against the school district over its optional mask policy.
In September, the school board voted that parents can sign a waiver stating their child does not need to wear a mask in school without having to provide a medical waiver.
In the complaint, the parents said students should have to wear masks and claim the school district is violating mask mandates issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Erie County Health Department.
The parents said even though Erie and Warren are separate counties, Warren still follows guidance from the Erie County Health Department.
There will be an evidentiary and preliminary injunction hearing Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 10 a.m. Witnesses will testify, and the defendants will need to have counsel.
A single school board member appeared at Tuesday’s hearing without representation. The school district’s superintendent and secretary sat in on the hearing to listen to the proceedings.
Attorney Ken Behrend from Pittsburgh is representing the parents who filed the lawsuit. He said, “I’m thrilled with today’s outcome, the judge was very serious about this, took into consideration the welfare of the children and the community it was a great ruling today.”
He went on to say he hopes other judges, lawyers and counties can learn from this case, “This case is going to have some precedence, they call it in the legal terms, that other judges will look at and presuming other school districts and parents will look to this case and say if they can do it in Erie county, they should do it in whatever other county in Pennsylvania.”
Behrend concluded by saying how important this case is in today’s landscape. “This case is extremely important because there is a number of school districts across Pennsylvania doing the same thing of allowing parents to sign off without medical documentation essentially to allow optional masking without medical documentation”, said Behrend.