Anti-mask parents raise voices at SACS school board meeting

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Southwest Allen County Schools is the latest Fort Wayne district to get surprised by anti-mask parents at a school board meeting. Several upset individuals spoke up Tuesday at the end of what was supposed to be a small, peaceful meeting.

SACS’ school board policy states that they can only discuss a topic at a meeting if it was formally put on the agenda ahead of time. Masks were not on the May 4 agenda.

There was an anti-mask group, SACS Patriot Parents, that had pre-planned an appearance to discuss unmasking their kids in the classroom. A representative of the group, Amanda Tokos, has been posting on Facebook that they “have power in numbers and need medical, mental health and legal experts to come speak.” The posts also has the hashtags #UnmaskOurKids and #NoMasks.

SACS’ spokeswoman Stacey Fleming said she spoke with Tokos and they agreed to have masks on the May 18 school board meeting agenda. Tokos will be allowed to give a presentation, then.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, a few people spoke up in anger that they could not discuss masks.

“This is not a closed meeting,” one person said. “This is being held in public.”

“This is not acceptable, not at all,” said another individual.

“So how can we give any feedback, because you’re voted in by us, so how can we give you feedback?” asked one woman.

“When are you going to decide on the masking policy for next year?” asked a vocal parent. “Are you going to seek parent input for that? What data are you using to make decisions for the masking policy?”

School board president Brad Mills said they’ll continue to require masks the rest of this school year per the governor’s mandate, but he’ll listen to what parents have to say on unmasking students on May 18.

“The rule is we have to have our kids masked in school,” he explained. “They might make me think, ‘gee that’s a good idea,’ but it’s out of my control at this point. So for this year, that can’t happen. It’s not in my control. I couldn’t will it if I wanted to.”

As for next school year, SACS hasn’t made a decision on students wearing masks yet. Administration said it’s too early to make a call.

“COVID has got us all on edge,” Mills said. “People are very passionate and I appreciate that, but we want to do this in a civil manner and an adult manner and we believe the community wants to do that as well.”

Fleming said administration will likely have the May 18 meeting at Homestead High School to accommodate all the potential attendees.

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