The Granite School District Board of Education meeting on May 4, 2021, came to an abrupt end after a group of attendees became agitated when a patron was not allowed to address the board. Several people now face criminal charges. (Granite School District via Zoom)
SOUTH SALT LAKE — After nearly a dozen people face charges for allegedly disrupting a Granite School Board meeting in May with their opposition to the statewide mask mandate, a mother accused the board of attempting to silence those parents in the district’s board of education meeting on Tuesday.
“This was not handled well for the school, and my son was treated as an outcast, as well as the 11 mothers and fathers that the district is trying to silence,” Lisa Davis said in the public comment section of the meeting.
She continued, “What’s been happening with Granite School District is not OK, not allowing people to voice their concerns is not OK. We will not be silenced and we will continue to fight for our children and future generations to have the most success.”
The mother alleged that her son had been bullied after he went maskless to school due to a medical exemption.
The 11 people referenced by Davis were charged last week in South Salt Lake Justice Court with disrupting a public meeting, a class B misdemeanor. Some of those charged appear to have no connection with Granite School District.
Those charged include: Kaleb Jeremiah Pierce, 45, and Sara Lea McArthur, 34, both of American Fork; Ted Michael Tyler, 52, and Bernadette Ethel Brockman, 54, of Taylorsville; Scott Randall Sherner, 60, Jeremy Kawika Dunyon, 35, and Debora Noriko Arai, 46, of West Valley City; Sophia Anderson, 41, of Salt Lake City; Angela Kay Van Leeuwen, 39, of Salt Lake City; Andrea May Jorgensen, 38, of Holladay; and Kasey Ray Wilson, 38, of West Jordan.
Sherner was a school bus driver in the Granite district at the time of the protest. A spokesman for the Granite district said Sherner is off-contract during the summer and currently not working.
“An administrative investigation is underway and the district will take appropriate action once that investigation and the criminal charge are completed and resolved,” the district stated.
According to a statement from the Granite School District, police were still attempting on Tuesday to identify at least one other person who could face criminal charges.
On May 4, the Granite School District Board of Education’s meeting came to an abrupt end when a group became disruptive after a woman was not allowed to address the board. The school board said the woman had not signed up to speak prior to the meeting.
The crowd — many of whom were not wearing masks — rose to their feet in protest and one man shouted: “Remember this day! Remember this day!” Others chanted: “No more masks. No more masks. No more masks.”
Some in the audience wore shirts with the words “See My Smile,” a parent organization that wanted the statewide health order mandating masks in K-12 schools abolished. The group boisterously cheered and applauded as one woman spoke against the order.
Gov. Spencer Cox announced a week after the meeting that the mandatory mask mandate for schools would be lifted for the final week of school.
After the crowd rose to its feet and began chanting, Granite School Board members voted to adjourn the meeting and quickly exited out a back door.
“While there was a police presence at the meeting, the decision was made in advance to be nonconfrontational unless the situation became violent. Regardless, there are repercussions for these actions and the board was unable to conduct its business as a result of these disruptive criminal actions. The board and district encourage civil discourse as we model appropriate behavior for our children and students,” the school district said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
The district said it took a little longer for charges to be filed “because many of the individuals were not associated with the district as patrons or residents,” so police needed more time to identify those involved.
The district’s meeting on Tuesday emphasized that the public comment section of the meeting was not required by law. The board asked the audience and commenters to be respectful of one another. That ideal was reinforced by the board as two commenters with opposing viewpoints addressed Critical Race Theory.