Community members protested face mask requirements and immunization clinics at Wednesday’s 4J school board meeting, which delayed proceedings.
About 20 people arrived shortly before the start of the 7 p.m. meeting, according to 4J Chief of Staff Kerry Delf. âSome entered the building without wearing face masks as required, entered the council chamber, shouted at council members and district staff, and refused to comply with required security measures or leave the building when asked to do so, âDelf said in a statement. E-mail.
Board member Gordon Lafer tells Eugene Weekly that the group was there to protest the vaccinations and the masks. The subject of vaccinations and masks was not on the meeting’s agenda. “About half [of the group] were inside and one outside, âhe said. He adds that he recognized some of the protesters as parents of local students.
Lafer says that when Eugene’s police arrived, most of the protesters left 4J’s property.
At 6:52 p.m. Eugene police came to clear the area, which took about half an hour, according to EPD spokesman John Hankemeier. He says that because the board moved on to having its meeting on Zoom, no police enforcement was needed.
Since seats at council meetings are limited due to COVID security measures, community members who wish to attend in person must submit a request before the meeting. Face masks are also required at all 4J facilities, including public meetings.
The meeting resumed on Zoom at 8 p.m., which board members attended from their homes. Despite the removal of several items from the agenda, the meeting lasted nearly five hours, until 1 a.m.
The board of directors voted in favor of a contract with Chicago-based Alma Advisory Group to lead the search for the new superintendent 4J of McPherson & Jacobsen. Alma Advisory Group is a black owned company.
Board members agreed that both were good choices, with McPherson & Jacobsen bringing years of experience and a deep network and Alma bringing a new perspective and focus on fairness with a higher price tag.
âThere are risks on all sides,â said Martina Shabram, board member, âand I think where I’m going with this is just that I’m willing to risk the possibility of hoping for something new and hoping that part of what we’re going to get is a new approach and a new way of doing things that can inform other processes within our district.
The motion was passed 5-2, with Mary Walston and Alicia Hays against. Walston said she was concerned about the price, while Hays said she was concerned Alma would include the Latino or Black superintendent caucuses in the groups they would contact.
Almost two hours of the meeting were devoted to a debate on the choice of dates for student-free days in order to relieve the pressure on teachers and staff and allow for the upkeep of kitchens and buses, and patience dulled. as the meeting took place Thursday morning.
The original proposed dates were November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, and January 14, the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Acting Superintendent Cydney Vandercar proposed Nov. 24 due to data showing there is low attendance anyway, but several board members said they were concerned that with the date not in a week, the short notice would be a burden on working parents.
Lafer suggested alternative dates to coincide with the tenure changes: December 6 and 7, January 28 and March 28, which board members Maya Rabasa and Laural O’Rourke supported. But other council members feared that December 6 and 7 was still too early. Vandercar said those dates would not work for bus maintenance either, as the buses would still be used to drive students to other school districts as well.
After several proposed amendments failed, the board voted not to withdraw dates yet. Instead, Vandercar will come up with new dates that can take the strain off teachers while minimizing the impact on parents at the next board meeting on December 1.
Additional reporting by Henry Houston