SCOTTSDALE (3TV/CBS 5) - A Scottsdale Unified School District board meeting ended before it began after some parents refused to wear face coverings. A parent told Arizona's Family that they were prepared to speak out about the districts lack of transparency surrounding curriculum involving critical race theory. They also wanted to speak out about masks at schools, but everything came to an end before the agenda even got started when some parents refused to put on masks.
"If you could please put your mask on, we would appreciate it," said Scottsdale Unified School District Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg. It started out as a simple request by Greenburg. "Ladies and gentleman, it is the rule of Scottsdale Unified School District that all people on our campus must wear masks," said Greenburg.
He offered an overflow room for people who didn't want to mask up but some parents were defiant, choosing to stay where they were without a face covering. "If you do not put your mask on, we cannot proceed with this meeting and you will be asked to leave by security," said Greenburg.
That didn't calm down the crowd. Instead they started shouting. One woman said, "Masks are theater," another said, "Masks aren't mandated in Arizona." The board president informed the crowd that they had the right to mandate masks in school facilities. People still wouldn't put them on so the board recessed and then adjourned. Parents started calling for the board's jobs.
The district released a statement from Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Menzel:
The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board and I are disappointed that this evening’s regularly scheduled meeting had to be recessed because of non-compliance with district policy that visitors wear face masks at all times while on all district property. After 1) explaining the policy to the audience, which is the district’s authority to establish, 2) asking that attendees put on masks in order for the meeting to begin and 3) setting up an overflow room where those who did not wish to comply could watch the meeting virtually, the Board voted to recess the meeting until a future time.
We understand that there are differing opinions on the need to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We fall on the side of doing what is within our authority to do in order to protect the safety and well-being of our students and staff. The district’s decision to maintain the mask policy through the end of the school year (May 27) was previously announced, as has the plan to make masks optional next fall. Most of our students are either not eligible or have not been vaccinated, and by following a careful mitigation strategy devised in concert with local, state and federal health agency guidelines and recommendations, we have been successful in preventing our schools from becoming COVID breeding grounds. As a result, we have been able to offer in-person learning opportunities to those students wanting and needing it since last fall.
As tonight’s Board meeting was the last one scheduled during the time students are in session, we had planned a time-honored SUSD tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of some of our outstanding students, especially our seniors who will graduate next week. SUSD students have achieved great things this school year, despite limitations placed on them through no fault of their own due to the pandemic, and they should know that we recognize their tremendous effort. It was our plan to honor them, as well as several staff members celebrating milestone anniversaries with the district, and also conduct the district’s regular business.
It is disappointing that several of the people in attendance tonight night came to the meeting with the intention of disrupting it, with little regard for what we had hoped would be a special night. Scottsdale Unified School District embraces and encourages diversity of thought, but not at the expense of decorum, safety and the rule of law. The district will schedule a follow-up meeting with measures in place to ensure we can conduct business in a respectful environment.