Johnson County commissioner’s mask lawsuit against Blue Valley School District dismissed

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A lawsuit filed against the Blue Valley School District and its Board of Education this week has been dismissed.

The suit was filed by a Johnson County Commissioner who was not allowed in this week’s school board meeting because she would not wear a mask.

Charlotte O’Hara said she’s exempt from the mask mandate because of a hearing impairment. When she was denied entry into the Blue Valley school board meeting for not wearing a mask, she took her complaint to a judge.

“I think people just need to realize that the school district is being very difficult to deal with,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara, who lives in the Blue Valley School District, said she went to the school board meeting Tuesday to support a friend who was bringing a grievance against the district.

“Her grievance was that her daughter was required to wear the mask as school,” she said.

O’Hara said while one of the attendees was allowed in wearing a crochet mask with large holes, she and her friends, who all said they have medical exemptions, were prohibited from attending the meeting. Her lawsuit claimed it was a violation of state and county law.

“We were allowed in the lobby without mass but into the hearing room we weren’t,” O’Hara said. “I was with three other women, and we each explained that we had a medical exemption.”

O’Hara was one of two county commissioners who recently voted against extending Johnson County’s mask mandate. While the measure did not pass, O’Hara said she has had no problems in many other public venues without a mask, including the Johnson County Commission meetings.

“I just, I have not run into this at all,” she said. “It hasn’t been an issue, and the school district was just really quite cranky.”

The Blue Valley school board and district shot back Friday and filed a motion to dismiss O’Hara’s lawsuit.

It claimed, among other things, the district’s board was following the guidelines set forth by the Kansas State Department of Education, including masking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It also argued that O’Hara lacked standing to bring the lawsuit because she’s not an employee of the school district and does not have a student there.

O’Hara said Friday afternoon the lawsuit was dismissed on technicalities without getting into the issues of the case. She has no immediate plans to refile.

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