Watch CBS News

Butler Area School Board, Parents File Lawsuit Against Governor Tom Wolf, Dr. Rachel Levine

BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) -- School board members and parents of students in the Butler Area School District are filing suit against Governor Tom Wolf, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine and the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

This lawsuit, which is several pages long, is asking the state to reverse several orders put in place, with the most recent order going into effect this past weekend.

"Somebody's decided to stand up to these people and say 'enough is enough,'" Butler Area School District Solicitor Thomas King III said.

The order from November was asking districts in counties with substantial community transmission of COVID-19 to sign an order, and if they didn't, they would have to operate at a fully remote schedule.

"We were ordered to sign this attestation form or face a penalty of going fully remote and not being able to offer in-person learning," said King.

The other order that went into effect on Saturday prevents students from participating in extracurricular activities and sports until Jan. 4.

"There is no such form in the school code and no such authority exists in the school code, which are the laws that govern Pennsylvania," said King.

That's why King says these orders should be reversed, citing that they take the power away from the district, the school board and taxpayers.

"That power is given to the communities, the people of Pennsylvania and that power is attempting to be taken away by the governor, health secretary and secretary of education," said King. "You can't use the COVID epidemic as a means to gain control over these schools."

The suit goes on to say state leaders took the power away from the district, its school board and parents -- and they don't have the authority to do that.

The district, school board and parents are asking the court to review this lawsuit and file an injunction, in hopes that these orders will be reversed, also stating that the orders are unconstitutional.

King expects a Commonwealth Court judge to step in soon. Once that happens, he says a hearing will take place.

KDKA reached out to the state Department of Health, the state Department of Education and the governor's office for a comment on the lawsuit.

State's Press Secretary Lyndsay Kensinger released a statement saying:

"We cannot comment on the litigation.

"The mitigation measures are a bridge to a better future in Pennsylvania and an opportunity to buy us time as hospitals statewide face a surge of COVID-19 patients and vaccines likely will not be widely available for months. With these measures in place, we hope to stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, keep our hospitals and health care workers from becoming overwhelmed, and help Pennsylvanians get closer to a widely available vaccine – as safely as possible."


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.