Over the last few weeks, KDKA has heard from North Allegheny parents who are in favor of a mask mandate as well.By Jessica Guay

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Some local parents are preparing to take legal action against the governor over the statewide mask mandate for schools.

“This is definitely a violation of people’s constitutional rights, so now we’ve just directed our fight from the school boards to the governor of Pennsylvania,” said Victoria Klaus, a parent whose child is in the North Allegheny School District.

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The statewide mask mandate for schools was a sigh of relief for some parents but on the other side, some parents are outraged and plan to go to court.

Klaus’ son is in the North Allegheny School District. Klaus said she and other parents from different districts plan to sue Governor Tom Wolf over the mandate that took effect on Tuesday.

“We are going to sue him on three different grounds that violate constitutional rights. I’m not at liberty to say what those grounds are because of legal matters and an NDA we signed, but this will remove the schools’ mandate to enforce mandatory masks,” Klaus said.

Klaus said she doesn’t agree with how some schools are disciplining students not wearing masks.

“The fight has turned very ugly now because the school’s hands are basically tied, but some people are taking it a little bit too far,” Klaus said.

A North Allegheny School District spokesperson said, “The district is using progressive discipline strategies to comply with the commonwealth masking order. The process includes the student, the family, and district administration. The district has not excluded education from any student.”

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The district also shared this information about enforcement of the order:

  • Students remain subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the student code of conduct/student discipline code, and in accordance with policies of the school board.
  • Staff members shall work with all students who are exhibiting distress or otherwise having difficulty properly wearing face coverings to assist the students in complying with the requirements.
  • Students may be excluded from school or reassigned by the district administration to an alternative learning environment if the district administrator determines that reassignment is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or others.
  • Over the last few weeks, KDKA has heard from North Allegheny parents who are in favor of a mask mandate as well. KDKA heard both sides at the last school board meeting, which was shut down because some parents were not complying with the district’s mask mandate at the time.

    “The best way to get our kids back in school where they can stay in school is with universal masking,” said Dr. Sylvia Choi, a parent and pediatrician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, after the last meeting.

    Klaus plans to speak to other parents at a rally at Ohio Township Park this weekend.

    “This Saturday, we have a huge rally in Ohio Township Park for my kid my choice. I’ll be speaking and hope to meet many parents that are going to join this lawsuit and encourage people that they have support for American freedoms and rights,” said Klaus.

    Kate Scotti, a parent who is an attorney with two children in North Allegheny schools, provided a statement on the matter:

    “There is a long precedent of courts upholding government action that is taken for the purposes of protecting the public health, despite personal liberty challenges by individuals. Not just seatbelt and smoking, which are often cited in these discussions. The US Supreme Court has allowed vaccine mandates since at least 1905, and masks are not nearly as invasive as vaccines. I anticipate a much more extensive public debate to come as various businesses and local governments begin requiring COVID vaccines. As for masking right now, I wholeheartedly support it. Universal masking in school is the best way I can keep my kids who cannot yet be vaccinated in school in person five days a week.”

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    The next school board meeting on Sept. 22 will be virtual. Klaus said a group plans on meeting outside to dial into the meeting and voice their opinions.