Parents file lawsuit against Goshen County School District

TORRINGTON — A lawsuit against the Goshen County School District, the board of trustees and superintendent was filed in regard to the mask mandate which was in effect during the school year from Sept. 7, 2021, to Nov. 1, 2021. 

According to a press release on Saturday, parents of students in the district believe their rights and medical decision making were not preserved. 

“The constitutional bounds of what’s been done to our kids without our consent must be put in check or we will lose all sense of individual liberty forever,” the release stated.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Drew and Danielle Murphy; Brandon and Marie Flanagan; Ty and Kelly Correll; Shanna Vargas; Kristy Green; Rebecca Cochran; Reece and Ashley Posten; Suzanne Keller; and Christ and Belinda Alexander. 

On May 2, a motion to dismiss was sent to the Eighth Judicial District by Scott Kolpitcke of Copenhaver, Kitchen and Kolpitcke on behalf of the school district. 

The motion cites a lack of subject matter jurisdiction as cause to dismiss. 

A motion to dismiss must be submitted 20 days after the lawsuit is filed, which was the case as it was presented to the school district on April 12. 

Superintendent Ryan Kramer was unable to comment by press time Tuesday. 

A memorandum in support of the motion to dismiss filed on the same day by the defense requests the court to take notice of the school board meeting minutes, specifically Oct. 28, 2021, which signifies the end of the mask mandate as of Nov. 1 and March 8, 2022, which shows the board approved revisions to the GCSD No. 1 School Level Close Contact Protocol including taking out the requirement for students deemed a close contact to wear a mask in order to stay in school. 

The primary argument presented in the motion to dismiss is the incidents described in the affidavits by the plaintiffs occurred months or even years prior to the lawsuit being filed. 

According to the document, one affidavit states an incident from 2019 while another states one from the 2020-21 school year. 

The argument also states six affidavits cited incidents several months before the lawsuit was filed and six others failed to provide a date. 

One affidavit was also “unclear regarding when the district’s actions were alleged to have occurred.” 

The defense’s conclusion states: “No justiciable controversy exists, precluding the court from considering plaintiff’s request for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.” According to Cassie Craven, the plaintiffs’ attorney, a motion to dismiss is common practice after a lawsuit has been filed. 

The next step will be for the court to either grant the motion to dismiss or to deny it and continue with a trial. 

“I think the most interesting thing for me is to see how the court decides,” Craven said. “I sense there is a place in the law to hear this kind of constitutional infringement.” 

Craven also added Wyoming has the strongest parental rights statutes in the country, which makes it interesting for the courts and legislature to decide how to handle it. Along with the lawsuit in Goshen County, Craven said there are similar cases around the state in various stages in the court of law.