Last week, a three-judge panel in the Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit against DeWitt Public Schools filed by parent and attorney Adam Holland in November 2021 after his son was disciplined for lowering his mask below his nose.
“They have judged in our favor, and we’re very pleased with that decision,” Superintendent Shanna Spickard said.
“The Court of Appeals determined that the superintendent had the authority to issue district health policy, and that there was no Open Meetings Act violation that occurred from that,” Holland said.
Holland’s argument was that Spickard did not have the authority to enact a mask mandate without first gaining board approval, and by doing so, she was in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
“All they had to do was a vote,” Holland said. “It’s a pretty simply matter. It’s their most essential duty.”
Judges Sima Patel, Stephen Borrello and Douglas Shapiro did not agree.
The court opinion reads, “The language in Policy 8450 is broad enough to provide the superintendent with the authority to act as she did in this instance to respond to the evolving circumstances of the pandemic. In doing so, she was acting in her individual executive capacity to implement policy and was not subject to the Open Meetings Act.”
“Last year was my first year in this role, and so I was very careful to work with mentors, the president at the time, also associations, on what we were required and not required to do,” Spickard said. “The year previously these did have to be voted on by the board, last year they did not.”
The court opinion continues, “The mask protocol is not inconsistent with the school board policies. There is no language in Policy 8450 limiting the authority of the superintendent to implement administrative guidelines regarding the spread of communicable diseases, contrary to plaintiff’s narrow reading.”
Holland said the court’s decision is “a disgrace.”
“This was a very simple case,” Holland said. “The school board is elected to represent the parents and the public in policy making. Parents and the public have an opportunity and a right to participate in those policy decisions with the board at open meetings.”
Holland said he isn’t sure whether he will once again appeal the court’s decision but said he might as well try. Spickard said she just hopes they can put this behind them and move forward.
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Appellate judges dismiss lawsuit filed by father against DeWitt Public Schools over 2021 mask mandate – FOX 47 News Lansing – Jackson