Orleans-Niagara BOCES Teachers’ Association files lawsuit against Orleans/Niagara BOCES over COVID-19

Posted at 12:44 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 12:44:44-04

SANBORN, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Orleans-Niagara BOCES Teachers’ Association (BOCESTA) has filed a lawsuit against Orleans/Niagara BOCES (O/N BOCES) and Superintendent Clark Godshall.

The lawsuit calls for a court mandate that O/N BOCES "adhere to and enforce provisions in its own reopening plan intended to protect the health and safety of students and staff."

The union says there are issues with social distancing, a lack of face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, health screenings and proper training since O/N BOCES reopened for in-person learning.

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) filed a complaint against the Orleans Niagara BOCES in September, saying the reopening plan is not keeping students and teachers safe at some of its teaching sites.

The BOCESTA lawsuit was filed in Orleans County Supreme Court and notes "“the widespread and blatant disregard of some of the most basic provisions of the reopening plan unnecessarily exposes staff, students and visitors and their families to Covid-19.”

“BOCES teachers and staff are committed to delivering a high-quality education to our students in the safest environment possible, but clearly BOCES itself isn’t willing to make the same commitments to the health and safety of everyone in our buildings,” Orleans-Niagara BOCES Teachers’ Association President Deborah Hillburn said. “BOCES leadership had months to prepare to get this right. But a lawsuit unfortunately is our next step. But we will not apologize for advocating for the safest possible environment for every student, staff member and family in our community.”

In September, 7 Eyewitness News took the union complaints directly to the superintendent, Dr. Clark Godshall, who denied the union’s claims.

“I believe we are in compliance,” said Godshall.