Regular BESE Board Meeting Ends in Chaos; What Happened?
Today, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had their scheduled meeting, but it was anything but orderly.
Governor John Bel Edwards mandated masks be worn in public facilities including in schools. There are several groups and individuals who do not agree with the order, and they wanted to be heard before the BESE board today.
Unfortunately, things didn't turn out as expected. BESE had multiple regular agenda items, and one of those items was an Executive Session of board members to do conducted the annual review of State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley. Both before and after that session, people who were attending the meeting were asked multiple times to put on masks as is required by the state mandate, but they refused.
What ended up happening can be described as chaos.
District Seven BESE Board Member Dr. Holly Boffy spoke to KPEL about what transpired today. She says members wanted to hear the concerns of everyone in attendance, but the group would not follow the mandated rules. The rules included wearing masks and social distancing. For those with medical exceptions and who were unable to wear a mask, Boffy says there was a separate area set up for them.
When the members adjourned into executive session, the crowd that had assembled began to chant. The attendees were repeatedly asked to wear masks and practice social distancing, but they chose not to do so.
Safety protocols are in place. We wanted to hear what people had to say, but we also had to follow the rules because there is a mask mandate in place. It was an unhealthy situation with too many people too close together and unmasked. The vote was 8 to 2 to adjourn the meeting.
Boffy says people were standing shoulder to shoulder and the chanting just continued. It was a chaotic scene. She says she had a desire to hear what people had to say, but because people were ignoring what was being asked of them, it was necessary to halt the meeting.
So, what happens now with the mask mandate for students?
Governor John Bel Edwards' mask mandate remains in effect until September 1. At that time, he will decide whether or not to extend the mandate.
For a complete look at what happened, click here for one of my coworker's reports on today's meeting.
The Louisiana Republican Party issued the following statement about today's meeting:
The Republican Party of Louisiana salutes the citizens who drove in from across the state to attend today's meeting of BESE. The meeting was prematurely adjourned, and these citizens were denied their rights.
We call on BESE to immediately schedule another meeting to hear from these citizens. We also call on the BESE members who voted to adjourn to issue written apologies for choosing to adjourn the meeting.