WARREN, Pa. – A lawsuit filed by the 2 Schools 1 Fight organization seeking a permanent injunction against the Warren County School District’s decision to send Sheffield students to Warren Area High Schools for core classes was dismissed Wednesday, Aug. 2.
Warren County Common Pleas Judge Gregory Hammond issued the order dismissing the case with prejudice after a full day of arguments and testimony. A case dismissed with prejudice may not be re-filed.
“In denying the plaintiff’s claims for relief and upholding the School Board’s decision, Judge Hammond determined that the Board’s action was not a permanent closing of all, or substantially all, of the school’s facilities, but was rather a permissible assignment of students to a school or schools deemed best to educate them that was within the School Board’s authority and discretion granted by Section 1310(a) of the School Code,” WCSD Superintendent Amy Stewart said in a release on Friday. “In addition, this solution keeps the school in the community and allows high school students in Sheffield to maintain their athletic and co-curricular activities as Sheffield Wolverines.”
The parties have 30 days to file an appeal, according to the order.
Thomas A. Pendleton, attorney for 2 Schools 1 Fight, told Your Daily Local the group is still deciding whether to appeal the decision.
“We’re still reviewing the opinion and will decide whether to appeal at the appropriate time,” Pendleton said.
2 Schools 1 Fight member Nate Lindberg was disappointed, but not surprised by Wednesday’s decision.
“I thought our attorney did a really nice job, but I don’t think I ever really expected a different outcome,” Lindberg told Your Daily Local in a phone interview on Friday. “I kind of figured the legal route was going to be an uphill battle, at least locally.”
The suit, which was filed on June 29, sought a permanent injunction against the district’s June 12 decision to send Sheffield 9-12 students to WAHS in the morning for three core classes (English, Math, and Science) before heading back to Sheffield for the remainder of their day.
“I absolutely support this motion,” board member Arthur Stewart said during the June 12 meeting. “For the notion that we gain several things we gain a reduction in teacher preps. We gain an increase in course offerings. And then to top it off, if we implement this motion, it actually saves money for the taxpayer. So I recognize the opposition to this comes in the form of you’re not supporting the community schools, and I have been an advocate for community schools, my entire time on this board. But with this motion, we also preserve the presence of the school in the community. So if you’re looking at those touch points, it meets all those touch points.”
According to Superintendent Stewart’s release, district employees echoed those thoughts during testimony Wednesday.
“District representatives providing testimony spoke about the additional educational opportunities that will now be available for high school students from Sheffield,” Superintendent Stewart said. “They emphasized the reality of the teacher shortage and the importance of alleviating the teacher workload by reducing the number of different courses each teacher is assigned to teach.”
Regardless of the decision on whether to appeal, and what that outcome might be, and with a majority of the board set to change in December, Lindberg said he’s keeping an open mind and encouraging others to do the same.
“I told the kids back in June after the board meeting, ‘It’s gonna be okay.’ I told the football team the other night, ‘It’s gonna be okay,’” Lindberg said. “You’re gonna have all kinds of times in your life where adversity is going to happen. And this won’t be the last.”