The Monroe County Board of Commissioners dismissed the Seven Oaks Classical School’s appeal against a summons accusing the school of violating a Monroe County Health Department rule, but waived the fine of $ 250 imposed on the school.
The school has not required masks so far this school year, and the Monroe County Health Ordinance, which came into effect on August 5, requires everyone in Monroe County to be vaccinated against COVID. -19 or not, wear a face covering while indoors in a public space. The measure includes a subsection on schools.
During a working session Thursday afternoon, the motion was approved 3-0 by the commissioners.
On Monday:Commissioners hear Seven Oaks appeal against citation of health order, await decision
Seven Oaks began the school year on August 11 without a mask warrant. On August 19, Seven Oaks, a public charter school in Ellettsville, received a citation including a $ 250 fine by Penny Caudill, administrator of the county health department, for violating the health order. Caudill wrote in the post that she had observed few masks, although some students, faculty and staff wore them.
On August 25, Stephen Shipp, director of Seven Oaks, filed a five-page appeal of the violation of the order on behalf of Seven Oaks. On Monday, commissioners heard Seven Oaks’ appeal but did not render a decision at that time.
On Thursday, Commissioners Chair Julie Thomas thanked Seven Oaks and the Department of Health for providing the Commissioners with “a lot of documentation and excellent information.” We have learned a lot, âshe said.
“I move that we reject this appeal,” said Lee Jones, vice chairman of the council of commissioners. “Because the health order was clarified after the appeal and your interpretation may have been sincere, we will waive the fine, but we expect you to comply with this order and all future orders.” sanitary facilities. “
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Thomas will work with the Legal Department to draft the written statement, Jones said. Commissioners had 15 days from Monday’s hearing to hold a final vote and issue a written decision.
On September 1 – after the citation and appeal – the board of commissioners approved revisions to the health ordinance by the Monroe County Department of Health.
In the subsection titled “Schools,” the ordinance now clearly refers to “all K-12 schools, including all private and / or public schools, in Monroe County must follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) â.
This line was added: “If the CDC recommends wearing face coverings, schools SHOULD require that students wear face coverings during school, unless an exception listed in paragraph 2 applies.” ”
The CDC currently recommends universal interior masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors, regardless of their immunization status.
During Monday’s hearing, county attorney Margie Rice read a letter that Grace College, the school’s authorizer, sent to the Shipp and Seven Oaks board of directors.
“If the appeal is successful, the sponsor will accept this decision and no further action on the part of the board will be necessary,” she read in the letter. “If the appeal is dismissed, the proponent will require the board to come into compliance no later than seven calendar days from the date of the final decision, unless the parties agree otherwise in writing.”
Rice’s final question to Shipp at the hearing was, “If the commissioners don’t accept your appeal and your school board chooses not to follow a local mask regulation, are you going to demand masks? your school ? ”
“I am convinced, as I always have been, that our board of directors wants to obey the law, and if it is shown to us that we are wrong about what the law requires, then we will change as we must change, Shipp said.
Contact Emily Cox at 812-331-4243, [email protected] or follow @HT_InSchool on Twitter.