Central Bucks School Board met Tuesday to discuss its Health and Safety Plan, and replacement of the vice president, who resigned during the previous meeting.
Karen Smith, a board member, spoke up before public comment, saying “the least I can do is say something,” after community members and parents reached out to her about the negativity present in the meetings. She said that she would repeat that the school does not condone the bullying or harassment after each negative comment.
John Gamble, the board’s vice president, resigned at the previous meeting citing the harassment he and his family had received over the Health and Safety Plan from both sides of the debate. Gamble and his wife received police protection after Gamble received death threats from the community.
After the board initially voted against universal masking, John Gamble said he was considered “public enemy number one.”
“Covid has broken you people, and it’s disgusting,” Gamble said when he announced his resignation, addressing the room of community members. “I watch how you treat each other here. It’s disgusting.”
Smith said that she is not in favor of a plan that doesn’t require a doctor’s sign-off on the mask exemption form. The form allows parents to send their children to school unmasked because they are unable to wear a mask due to medical, mental, or a disability.
Previously, the board voted 5-4 in favor of following Gov. Tom Wolf’s order, which was released on Aug. 31. The order instituted universal masking and applies to K-12 schools, public and private, for all students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status. The order went into effect on Sept. 7.
“Since your own liability is your concern, the Pennsylvania Department of Education published a letter to a school district that failure to comply is a violation of the law,” Dabiella Burg, an attorney from Furlong said. “Please make no mistake, if you don’t require medical documentation, you are opening yourself up to liability and a negligence action.”
Friday, the Philadelphia Inquirer had reported that Gov. Wolf said those who allow medical exemptions without medical approval violate the state order.
“The message from the state education department didn’t threaten specific consequences,” reported the Inquirer, “but pointed to a letter it sent this week to one district deemed noncompliant, warning that school officials could be found in violation of state laws and that the district could face legal action.”
TJ Kosin, a Warwick parent accused online of identifying with a far-right anti-government group, had come to the meeting and said that the community needed to “be better.”
“Since this misinformation campaign against me and the media,” he said, “this group has been showing exactly what extremism is.”
Kosin said that his son, a minor with autism, had been accused of not having a disability because it was not visible. He also said he had received death threats.