OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -- Blue Valley School District on Wednesday morning held a virtual meeting to hear parent complaints concerning the district's mask mandate for students and staff.
The recent passing of Senate Bill 40 allows parents to request a hearing if they do not agree with a school district's COVID-19-related safety measures.
The hearing was initially slated for Tuesday morning at the Blue Valley School District offices. However, that was delayed to Wednesday and turned into a virtual meeting after an attendee refused to put on a mask inside the meeting room.
The hearing was in response to three parents' complaints filed against the district's mask mandate. Each of those parents was given an opportunity Wednesday morning to address district officials and a mediator to make their case.
The first parent chose to forego that opportunity in order to seek legal counsel. The second parent also said she had been trying to secure legal counsel, but read a statement to the district urging them to lift the mask mandate because of low COVID-19 transmission rates in schools and relatively low infection numbers locally and nationally lately.
Linus Baker, a Stilwell attorney, also addressed the district at-length during the meeting. Baker had a son in the district and has sued the school district before. In 2017, he and his wife sued the school district to keep their son from being vaccinated because of a heart condition.
As per Senate Bill 40, a hearing officer will now present findings and recommendations to the Blue Valley Board of Education at an open meeting within seven days. The district has slated that meeting to be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The next scheduled Blue Valley Board of Education meeting, meanwhile, is set for the evening of April 12.
Melissa Hillman, an attorney with the district, also gave a presentation at the hearing, in which she urged the Board of Education and the district to uphold the current mask mandate, citing the primary spread of COVID-19 through respiratory droplets. Masks heavily lessen that risk, she said.
Hillman also called several school and health-related witnesses, who presented evidence and information they said supports the need for continued mask mandates as the least restrictive reasonable practice that can be used to curb the spread of COVID-19.