MILTON — The Milton Area School District school board is expected to vote at its Oct. 19 meeting on whether to allow parents to sign an opt-out form if they prefer their children not wear masks while in school.
The board members agreed during a Tuesday committee session to have the motion placed up for a vote after hearing from Anthony Beachel, whose children attend school in the district.
During his remarks, Beachel noted he’s a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan.
“As a soldier, there is no plan to give up, which is what most of you have done,” he said, to the board members.
Beachel said parents would like to see a policy adopted which allows them to opt their children out from abiding by the state masking mandate.
According to Beachel, other districts — notably Hollidaysburg — represented by Milton Solicitor Carl Beard have approved opt-out forms.
“I demand the solicitor and his law firm be fired,” Beachel said. “This soldier will continue to fight for the children and this community.”
Beard, who attended the meeting via Zoom, would not discuss the specifics of what occurred in Hollidaysburg. He said Milton Superintendent Dr. Cathy Keegan can reach out to Hollidaysburg’s superintendent for details.
“The role of the solicitor is to provide guidance, best practice and point the client in the direction which we feel is best,” Beard said.
He said decisions by three federal judges support the masking mandate.
“I cannot advise you to go (masking) optional,” Beard said. “If you do that… there could be sharks in the water.”
Board member Eric Moser asked to have placed on the agenda for the Oct. 19 meeting a vote on whether to allow parents the option of signing a form to opt their children out from having to wear masks while in school. If approved, it was noted that a liability waiver will be included on the form, along with a requirement for parents to have the form notarized.
Board Vice President Kevin Fry thanked community members for attending the meeting.
“I appreciate people coming and expressing their opinion,” he said.
Board members agreed to a request by Moser to also have a motion placed on the agenda to make girls wrestling a club sport.
Moser’s daughter Abby, who is in ninth grade, is a member of the high school wrestling team.
He is a member of the Pennsylvania Girls Wrestling Committee, an effort to have the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) sanction girls wrestling.
In addition to his daughter being a member of the high school team, Moser said there are six or seven elementary school girls involved in wrestling.
According to Moser, the PIAA has agreed to sanction a state championship for girls wrestling if 100 districts in the state adopt it as a varsity or club sport.
Moser said 15 school districts have already taken that step, with a vote also pending in Newport.
He said adopting girls wrestling as a club sport will not cost Milton anything as the boys wrestling coach has agreed to simultaneously serve as the girls coach.
At matches, Moser said junior high wrestlers will take to the mat first, followed by the varsity boys and then the girls. If there are no girls on the opposing team, Moser said the girls can wrestle with the boys.