Chaotic Franklin School Board meeting ends in mandatory masks for some kids, but not all


It was definitely the kind of public meeting that makes citizens hate government.

After nearly four hours the Franklin School Board, clearly unsure of how to manage the upcoming school year, took not one but two votes on masks for students. The first vote came on a motion to require universal masking under certain conditions that had been recommended by the school district’s medical advisory board that lectured the board and audience for nearly two hours, drawing jeers from the crowd that was overwhelming in favor of making masks optional. That vote failed 3-4.

A second vote was then taken on a motion for masks for kids in grades K4-6, but not for grades 7-12. That vote was approved 4-3 resulting in anger, frustration, and confusion.

After the second vote that came around 11:00 pm my family left. I heard later that shortly after the voting the school board cleared the room at the middle school so they wound up finishing their final business behind closed doors.

During my remarks to the board during the citizen comment period that didn’t start until 9:00 pm I mentioned that I’ve attended many meetings and hearings like this. A common ploy of all units of government is to make concerned citizens who come to speak to make them wait and wait and wait. “You guys did a super job of that tonight,” I remarked.

Wednesday night’s clown car began with presentations by the medical advisory board. A few months ago a Franklin resident asked District Administrator Judy Mueller for the names of the medical advisors and their contact information. Mueller refused to answer. But Wednesday night all four were trotted out to initially monopolize the discussion. The word “cases” was bandied about quite often prompting one man in the audience to rightfully shout out inquiring, “Where’s the data on hospitalizations and deaths?” He and most other dissenters were simply ignored.

Speeches dragged on until 8:05. Then a question and answer session involving only school board members took almost another hour as the audience grew impatient. At approximately 9:00 pm board president Mike Spragg announced the citizen comment period would go for an hour. Board member Ann Sepersky at 10:00 said to Spragg that the period had gone for an hour. Shouldn’t it stop? Spragg said he’d take one more. Thirty-four (34) people had signed up to speak and a three-minute time limit was imposed.

It’s understandable that Sepersky, the evening’s #1 villain, wanted to silence folks as soon as possible. The mask optional contingent came well-prepared and took the board to school.

Sepersky was the biggest gung-ho proponent for masks, scoffing at any suggestion that masks are not effective and was actually brazen about it. Angela Bier was right there in Sepersky’s corner, turning a deaf ear to any mask optional argument. Maqsood Khan muttered and stumbled, usually incoherently, but basically wanting a mask requirement. Linda Witkowski said nothing all night, but eventually voted for both of the mask motions that were made.

Speaker after speaker said they were not anti-mask. They merely wanted choice for parents. One woman said she didn’t care if a student came to class with a ventilator. Just don’t tell her how to deal with her own child/children.

The hero of the night was board member Debra Larson who openly and emotionally chastised her colleagues, telling them parents know their children best and should make the masking decisions, not the board. Like many in the room Larson couldn’t believe that some on the board wanted to let high schoolers go mask-free, but wanted to cover up the faces as Larson called them, “the littles.”

Consider the awful situation the school board has now created. At the middle school 6th graders will have to wear masks. But in the same building 7th and 8th graders will not. So child will be pitted against child, family against family.

Larson, Spragg, and Alan Aleksandrowicz voted against the second and final motion.

Two Franklin police officers stood at the back of the meeting the entire night, but never had to intervene.

5 thoughts on “Chaotic Franklin School Board meeting ends in mandatory masks for some kids, but not all

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