Rudolph Clarke Partner Peter Amuso Secures Significant Victory for School Districts Statewide, Preserving Public Health Power Under the School Code

On December 1st, the Commonwealth Court issued a ruling dismissing a statewide attempt by plaintiffs to nullify the power of locally-elected school boards to implement public health measures in their local schools during a pandemic. Partner Peter Amuso and Firm Associate Samantha Newell represented Pennsbury School District in the matter.

The Plaintiffs sued Pennsbury, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, as well as five other school district from across Pennsylvania. They argued that local school districts have no authority to require students and visitors to wear masks during a pandemic, and that the Secretary was wrong to advise them that they did.

Peter co-ordinated the efforts of the attorneys for the Secretary and the other school districts, along with attorneys from the Pennsylvania School Boards Associations, who filed a brief in support of the position of the districts.

In October, Peter argued in front of the Commonwealth Court that school districts do have the authority under Section 510 of the Public School Code to require masks.

The Commonwealth Court dismissed the case outright, ruling that the Secretary had not issued any mandate or requirement to the school districts, and that the case was moot, as Pennsbury and the other school districts no longer require masks. While the Court did not specifically address Section 510 of the School Code, it’s outright dismissal of the case ends plaintiffs’ challenge to the authority of local school districts to protect their students.

Through the School Code, our Legislature has granted local School Boards broad power to protects students, based on local conditions,” said Amuso. “We were proud to protect those broad powers for Pennsbury and our other school district clients, and for all school districts across the Commonwealth. We continue to be ready to assist our clients facing these complex safety issues.”