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North Allegheny's Masking Mandate Reinstated After Judge Approves Temporary Restraining Order

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - A judge approved a temporary restraining order, reinstating a mask mandate for the North Allegheny School District.

Less than 24 hours before North Allegheny's first day of school, a group of parents and students took legal action to try to get a mandatory mask mandate back in place.

On Sunday around 7 p.m., 11 students and 11 parents filed a complaint seeking to reverse the current optional masking policy, and around 10:30 p.m., they filed a motion for a temporary restraining order.

The injunction complaint said, "The board's decision violates Constitutional substantive and procedural due process and will result in irreparable harm to the Plaintiffs, NASD staff, students, and visitors, and the local community at large."

"I am glad that the judge understood and made a narrow ruling that will help give guidance and everyone a chance and time, take a step back, take a breath and let's get this resolved in an orderly fashion. It is our hope and intent that the schools can remain open as long as possible for in-person school. And by wearing masks, it will protect the wellbeing of the students," said Ken Behrend, the parents' attorney.

It came after the school board overturned the superintendent's order requiring mask-wearing in schools. A vote on masks was not even on the agenda last week, but a second-grader addressed the board, thanking the district for making them mandatory. A heated debate ensued and lasted hours, with the board voting 6 to 3 to make masks optional.

During Monday's hearing, there was a discussion about the latest school board meeting. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Horan asked the defendants' attorney why a vote and public hearing were not on the agenda the day. She said the board did not provide advanced notification and did not follow procedural due process.

"The judge is saying to the school board that you have to follow the proper constitutional process of a right to notice and hearing and that the school board failed to give a proper notice to the community and school district that they were going to take a vote on the superintendent's implementation of universal masking," said Behrend.

The judge said the order will remain in place until the issue is on the school board's agenda, and all sides and medical input can be heard. For now, Judge Horan said the district will follow the plan that went out at the end of June, which follows local and national guidance.

"Particularly for my children, my oldest starting in elementary school, she doesn't have the option to be vaccinated. I am vaccinated, my husband is, and we will absolutely get her vaccinated as soon as it's possible. But for children under 12, there really is no other preventive strategy against getting COVID or the Delta variant than to wear a mask," said Nora DiNuzzo.

The district and board attorneys had no comment after the hearing. District officials declined to comment earlier Monday.

The next school board meetings will be on Wednesday and Sept. 22.

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