HARRISBURG – The state Commonwealth Court recently affirmed dismissal of a complaint filed by a doctor against the Abington School District after its school board limited his time to speak at a school board meeting.
On Oct. 16, the court ruled against Dr. Robert B. Sklaroff, who alleged that School Board President Raymond McGarry and the school board violated the Sunshine Act, an open meetings law, by failing to provide him with an opportunity to speak for 20 minutes on two issues:
-Adding a semester of social studies during 12th grade; and
-The development of a new curriculum that would address "Holocaust, Genocide and Human rights Violations."
During citizen comment at a school board meeting in May 2016, the plaintiff claimed he was wrongly told he had only three minutes to speak and spent six minutes giving comment before he was told to finish and step down.
Sklaroff contended he should have been allowed more time to speak.
In the complaint, he requested the school district pay a $100 fine plus the cost of prosecution.
Abington School District officials countered that there was no requirement in the Sunshine Act to allow a specific amount of time to speak at a school board meeting.
In June 2016, a trial court dismissed the complaint, saying it did not meet pleading standards for the relief sought.
Sklaroff appealed, and the school district filed an application to quash the appeal, contending that the trial court’s order was not a final order ending litigation and therefore was subject to an appeal.
The Commonwealth Court noted that the pleadings in the complaint were not legally sufficient to establish a right to relief under statutory provisions, and the Sunshine Act only requires that a person at a school board meeting be granted a reasonable opportunity to comment on matters of concern.
The court upheld the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas' decision to dismiss the complaint.