Springfield, MO

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Springfield Public Schools' academic year starts today.
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Springfield Public Schools' academic year starts today.

Court blocks temporary restraining order in SPS lawsuit

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The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on Aug. 21 denied a request for a temporary restraining order in the lawsuit filed last month against Springfield Public Schools' reopening plan.

A statement issued by SPS on behalf of its legal counsel, Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson PC, indicated the court decision "validated the district's school reentry plan and its implementation." The district's academic year – a mix of in-person and virtual learning – started today.

"The extraordinary circumstances posed by COVID-19 require the district to continue to adapt service delivery to limit the risk of potential exposure," Ellis, Ellis, Hammons & Johnson officials said in the statement. "From the beginning, SPS has been clear that its plans are flexible and will be refined as the public health emergency continues to evolve."

The suit filed by Kristina Borishkevich, Erica Sweeney and Stoney McCleery – Springfield residents who are parents of children at SPS – alleges the reopening plan denies “equal access to education” for some students and that the district should partially refund property taxes, according to their attorney, Kristi Fulnecky.

Fulnecky said in a statement regarding the temporary restraining order decision that she's hopeful the court will make a decision in favor of her clients as litigation continues.

"While we are disappointed that the temporary restraining order was denied, this is the first step in the case and we remain hopeful the court will rule in our favor after this case is litigated," she said in the statement.

Fulnecky added in the statement that her clients approved of a recent SPS decision to add a four-day, in-person option for preschool students and some with special needs.

The SPS case is one of three lawsuits related to COVID-19 that Fulnecky is representing. Suits also have challenged the masking ordinances in the cities of Springfield and Branson.


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