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Suit against Boone County schools goes before judge Tuesday

Posted at 10:55 PM, Feb 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-13 23:29:46-05

Aaron Gillum and his attorney, Chris Wiest, joined other parents in Boone County who filed a lawsuit against the Boone County board of education and the district superintendent, claiming the district must reopen for full-time, in-person teaching; The case will go before a judge on Tuesday.

Parents from other counties, like Fayette and Jefferson, have also filed lawsuits against their local school districts, which have not reopened any schools to in-person learning since they closed in the spring of 2020.

The lawsuit is dependent upon the Republican-controlled legislature’s overrides of Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes on bills aiming to limit the Democratic governor’s authority to order restrictions to combat COVID-19.

It claims Kentucky Senate Bill 1 invalidates Governor Andy Beshear's move in March to suspend a state law that required a certain number of in-person learning days.

"They took away his ability to suspend statutes immediately without the Attorney General's consent and that's the key provision from our perspective about the schools," said Wiest.

The legislature voted earlier in February to override Beshear's veto of that bill. The governor has filed a lawsuit in Franklin County challenging the legality of Senate Bill 1 and other legislation, arguing the actions to restrict his executive authority violate the state constitution.

Gillum and Wiest are filing the lawsuit, aimed specifically at re-opening schools in the Boone County Schools district, because Gillum believes the ccurrent hybrid learning model is a disservice to students.

"The quality of instruction being received, it varies wildly," he said. "Pretending that these NTI days equate to an in-person day of education, we're fooling ourselves."

He wants students to return in-person, all day, five days a week. The district currently has plans to transition to a four-day in-person school week in March.

A motion filed on behalf of the Boone County board of education and superintendent says they do not agree with the lawsuit's interpretation of Senate Bill 1 and points out the bill is not effective yet. The motion says there are "serious concerns about its legal validity" and has requested proceedings be delayed.

"The longer we wait, the greater this cost is on the kids that need that in-person instruction," said Gillum.

Wiest said the parents are looking to obtain class action status, which would bind school districts throughout the state to the outcome of this case and said he expects that to come up during Tuesday's hearing.

"We are looking for statewide relief on this," said Wiest. "We've had a lot of parents from around the state call on us."