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New Hanover school board, sheriff’s office sued by local Republican leader over meeting mask mandate

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 2:52 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The chairman of the New Hanover County Republican Liberty Caucus has sued the county Board of Education and Sheriff’s Office over unmasked members of the public being denied entry to a school board meeting.

“What happened at the October 5th meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Education was disgraceful, a frontal assault on liberty, and something that never should happen in the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,’” David Perry wrote in a blog post announcing the lawsuit.

Prior to the meeting, a group of parents and community members gathered outside the Board of education, holding signs that read “you can’t mask the truth!” and “we the people don’t need permission to breathe.” Many attempted to enter the building as the meeting began but were blocked by law enforcement officers. Several other individuals inside the building were removed after they took off their masks.

In his Petition for Declaratory Judgement and Relief, which was filed on Thursday, Perry claims barring the protestors from the meeting violated their constitutional rights of assembly and petition, as well the state’s Open Meetings Act.

His petition requests, among other things, that the school board’s mask policy as well as any and all actions taken by the board within the last 45 days be rendered null and void, and that the board and sheriff’s office be prevented from denying entry to anyone trying to attend an open meeting of the school board.

In addition to his main petition, Perry also filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, which if approved by a judge would temporarily allow unmasked individuals to physically attend school board meetings until the case is fully resolved.

“I cannot guarantee success,” Perry, who said in his post that he is representing himself in the case because the NHC RLC is “not in the financial position to afford to hire a necessary attorney,” wrote. “All I can guarantee is that I, along with all the other members of the New Hanover RLC, will keep up the fight for your liberty, and the liberty of your children.”

Requests seeking comment from Stephanie Adams, chair of the NHC Board of Education and New Hanover County Schools were not immediately returned.

Officials with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office responded saying paperwork for the lawsuit had not yet been served to the NHCSO and any comments moving forward would come through the county attorney’s office.

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