Rochester school board ejects and bans man without mask for a year

It might not have been on the official agenda at the most recent meeting of the Rochester Public Schools Board. But the requirement for everyone in the room to wear a protective mask — or else — was clearly on the table for school board members, as well as the parents taking up most of the seats in the auditorium.

“As a reminder this school district requires effective masks to be worn by everyone over age two in RPS buildings,” Rochester Public School Board chair Jean Marvin warned. “We are committed to slowing the spread of Covid as much as possible so we can keep our schools open and our students in their classrooms. The Edison building is an RPS facility so if you choose to attend a meeting here rather than do the livestream at home or elsewhere you need to wear an effective mask. Policies and consequences are posted.”

Just to make sure the message got through, school board clerk Melissa Amundsen asked for a clarification about the correct technique for wearing a mask.

“Chair Marvin, may I ask you to remind the people in the audience the proper way to wear a face covering is over the nose and of the mouth?”  “Yes, mouth and nose,” Marvin said. “Face coverings need to be effective.”

During the public forum at the start of the meeting, a man in the audience without a protective mask was asked to leave. He was the first individual ejected and led out of a board meeting by police under the school district’s newly adopted trespassing policy, according to the Post Bulletin.

Police officers trespassed an individual during Tuesday’s Rochester School Board meeting, barring the person from entering school district property for one year.

Officers escorted the individual from the boardroom during the public comment portion of the meeting. Neither the police department nor the School District would provide the name of the individual who was cited.

“These things do not work; take them off our kid(s),” the man said as he left the room, referring to face masks. That was followed by applause from some people in the audience.

Once outside, a police officer wrote up an apparent ticket for trespassing. The violation effectively bans the unnamed man from stepping on Rochester public schools property for a year.

After leaving the boardroom, the individual, as well as several others, continued arguing with the officers in the parking lot of the Edison Building, where the meetings are held. When speaking with police and school officials, the man repeatedly said he was medically exempt and that it would be a HIPAA violation for the district to ask him what that exemption was.

While most of those in attendance appeared to oppose the mask mandate, some showed up to support the board’s tough new trespassing policy, according to KTTC-TV.

“I want to make sure that the schoolboard understands that there are people in the community that have their back,” RPS parent Pernell Meiers said.

Meiers said she started attending board meetings to show support for the board in these instances.

The police officers on the scene did their duty as directed by the school board. At the same time, one officer told the anti-mask parents in the parking lot they don’t see themselves as “the mask police.”

“What we’ve always said from day one is we’re going to do everything in our power not to arrest people regarding the mask issue,” the officer said on a video posted to YouTube. “We’re going to leave it up to whoever the person of authority is in the building…We’re not the mask police.”

Future meetings of the Rochester school board may well test that police officer’s view. Neither school officials or parents opposed to the board’s heavy handed tactics appear inclined to stand down.