Education Law

Campbell Circuit Court says Board of Education violated open meetings law for requiring masks

By Amye Bensenhaver
Kentucky Open up Federal government Coalition

The Campbell County Circuit Court docket ruled this 7 days in Ken Moellman, et al. v. Campbell County Board of Schooling that the board violated the open conferences legislation by positioning unlawful problems on attendance — in contravention of KRS 61.840 — at four of 6 challenged conferences done in August and September 2021.

The court docket located that plaintiff Moellman was illegally excluded from board conferences that happened on August 9 and August 20 and once again on September 9 and September 20 for the reason that he refused to put on a mask — a situation on attendance other than just one needed for the maintenance of purchase — and ruled in favor of his movement for summary judgment as to these conferences.

Campbell Circuit Court says Board of Education violated open meetings law for requiring masks

Ken Moellman

The courtroom dominated in favor of the board as to the other challenged conferences which happened on August 16 and August 18.

In an 11-page belief, Decide Julie Reinhardt Ward framed the challenge before the courtroom as a person testing no matter if the wearing of masks was essential to manage purchase for each KRS 61.840.
That statute offers, in portion:

“No affliction other than people essential for the maintenance of buy shall implement to the attendance of any member of the community at any conference of a community agency.”

The courtroom summarily rejected the board’s attempt to draw from prison regulation — likening Moellman’s refusal to use a mask to disorderly conduct — for the reason that there was no evidence that he acted deliberately or wantonly refused to obey an formal order to disperse for every KRS 525.060.

The decide then examined whether masks were vital to retain buy. She concluded that the board offered no evidence that on the day of each and every assembly the group was so significant that social distancing could not be maintained. More, she located no evidence of risk to attendees for failing to don masks.

Choose Julie Reinhardt Ward

Decide Reinhardt Ward identified unpersuasive the board’s argument in assistance of the mask prerequisite primarily based on govt orders issued by the Governor and Kentucky Section of Training emergency restrictions, “given the background.”

She analyzed in-depth the tortured lawful historical past of the government orders and laws issued from March 2020 as a result of the pertinent conference dates, concluding that — as the troubles proceeded by way of the courts — there was no enforceable executive get or administrative regulation in area in the course of the interval in which the August 9, August 20, and September 9 and September 20 conferences were conducted. “There was,” she dominated,  “no justification for the mask mandate at the conferences.”

With regard to these conferences, Choose Reinhardt Ward observed the board’s violation willful, opining: 

“The Courtroom finds the violation of the Open up Conferences Act particularly egregious at the September 20, 2021 conference, exactly where there were no executive orders, unexpected emergency rules, or injunctions in location which would require masks, and the board supposed to vote on the boards COVID-19 Strategy. The board, by demanding masks, barred attendance from the pretty people today most very likely to oppose passage of the COVID-19 Plan. This encumbrance can only be considered as intentional.”

She awarded Moellman $100 for each and every violation — for a whole of $400 — as properly as attorney’s service fees. Moreover, in an unconventional stage, she voided all actions taken by the board at the August 9, August 20, September 9, and September 20 meetings.

Judge Reinhardt Ward ruled in favor of the board as to the challenged conferences that occurred on August 16 and August 18 based mostly on a Franklin Circuit Court injunction on enforcement of laws overriding government orders throughout that period.

In addition, she ruled in opposition to Moellman’s co-plaintiff, Noah Heim, mainly because he was not excluded from the conferences but was permitted to enter with a mask and remove his mask in the course of individuals meetings.

The Campbell Circuit Court’s get is deemed non-last until eventually Choose Reinhardt Ward will make a final ruling on attorney’s fees.

Browse the complete purchase right here.

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