Mifflinburg High School

The Mifflinburg High School.

MIFFLINBURG — Buffalo Township Supervisors won’t allow Mifflinburg Area School District to use the township building as an auxiliary site for Tuesday’s virtual school board meeting.

Supervisor Chairman Joseph Wise and Supervisor William Zimmerman each said the district hadn’t sought permission to use the building again. Since the district was granted permission last week to use the building for a virtual forum Oct. 5, district officials may have assumed continual use, Wise and Zimmerman said.

However, Wise and Zimmerman each expressed concern that the district could be challenged legally about potentially violating Pennsylvania’s open meeting law.

“Buffalo Township shouldn’t get caught in this,” Zimmerman said, adding that he didn’t know the district’s intentions until this weekend.

“We didn’t even know,” Wise said. “We had no idea.”

Last week on Oct. 4, the Board of Supervisors permitted the district use of the township building as an auxiliary site on Oct. 5. It allowed residents with spotty internet service, or no service at all, to watch the forum. That was the district’s intent again for Tuesday’s board meeting.

That night, the district hosted an online forum where medical staff with Evangelical Community Hospital answered questions about COVID-19 and vaccines. The full presentation is available via the district website.

The vote to allow permission was date-specific, both Wise and Zimmerman said.

The Mifflinburg Area School Board announced this month that its meetings would be held online indefinitely beginning Tuesday. Log-on information is available at www.mifflinburg.org. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.

The shift was out of concerns about adhering to state orders about mandatory masking inside public school buildings along with unspecified threats against district board members and administrators, according to a letter sent to district residents.

Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, said the Mifflinburg board’s actions raise compliance questions with the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act and create potential liability for the district and individual directors.

The last school board meeting on Sept. 14 shifted suddenly online as approximately 70 people waited outside the high school building to attend in person. Members of the crowd, the majority not wearing face masks, eventually walked into the building and held an impromptu town hall while board members had traveled to the administration center to conduct a virtual meeting streamed online.

The next day, the district released a statement about the sudden change in meeting format, citing “a growing number of threats to our board and administrators being reported by numerous staff members to law enforcement agencies.”

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