Pennsylvania school district sues Gov. Tom Wolf over restrictions preventing athletics
A school district in western Pennsylvania has sued Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine over the state's latest restrictions regarding COVID-19, which include a three-week stoppage of high school sports.
Attorney Thomas King filed the lawsuit Monday in Commonwealth Court on behalf of the Butler Area School District, its school board and a number of parents of student-athletes in the district. Located north of Pittsburgh, Butler is a Class 6A school and a member of the WPIAL.
The lawsuit contends that Wolf "usurped the authority" of local school districts with his restrictions preventing sports and extracurricular activities. The district is seeking the reversal of the restrictions in court.
Last Thursday, Wolf announced new mitigation efforts designed to curb the current surge in coronavirus cases across the state. Included was a stoppage of youth and high school sports competitions and practices for the next three weeks.
High school sports teams won't be able to practice again until Jan. 4 at the earliest. Competitions can begin once teams have completed four practices following the shutdown and have 15 practices this season total.
This is not the first time King has sued Wolf's administration this year. In September, King won a suit in federal court that Wolf's then restrictions of 25 people indoors and 250 outdoors were unconstitutional and violated civil liberties.
Along with the restrictions against high school sports and other extracurricular activities, Monday's lawsuit also challenges an order from Levine and the state in November regarding school remaining open for in-person learning. That order required schools in areas of substantial community spread of COVID-19 to submit a form affirming they were complying with state health orders.
"The attestation requirements, the governor’s mitigation order, and the secretary’s mitigation order usurp the powers of the Pennsylvania Legislature because they suspend, modify, and are contrary to existing Pennsylvania law," Monday's lawsuit states.
Wolf's latest restrictions, which also prohibit indoor dining at restaurants and limits indoor and outdoor gatherings, does not apply to college or professional sports. Indoor operations at gyms and fitness centers are also prohibited.
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.