Angry Rant Video Douglas County School Board Safety Rules

On November 30, four newly elected members of Douglas County School Board who lined up on a conservative blackboard are expected to be sworn in, marking a hard right turn for a panel that has taken heat from many district residents to support the use of school masks in response to the proliferation of COVID-19. Meanwhile, tensions at board meetings are rising, as exemplified by an angry altercation sparked at a November 9 session by Sean Benson, a parent who spoke while dressed in red, white and blue – an obvious gesture of despite recently stressed rules to prohibit meeting participants from bringing “signs, flags and other things that create unnecessary disturbance.”

“Everyone is thin to get thicker, not thinner,” Benson barked. “Bubble wrapping for our children, forbidding them anything that could harm them or make them feel uncomfortable, creating so-called” safe spaces “” – he used air quotes – “which suppresses freedom of speech, forbids words as trigger words, forbids American flags tonight and threats to remove people for clapping and waving my American flag are not values ​​that will make this country better and stronger. ”

The ultra-right-wing quartet of incoming board members – Becky Myers, Mike Peterson, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar – won the election on November 2, shortly after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against procedures introduced by the Douglas County Health Department, which allows children to skip the mask if their parents write a letter “requesting to be exempted from the requirement to wear a face mask due to the negative impact on the individual’s physical and / or mental health.” TRO, issued in response to a lawsuit filed by the Douglas County School District, was extended for another two weeks on November 8th.

That same day, the Douglas County School Board reiterated its meeting safety and security protocols. The rules have been widespread reported as being new, but according to Douglas County School District spokeswoman Paula Hans, that’s not entirely true.

“To be clear, this is not a new policy,” Hans says, noting that most of the rules were “implemented long before the recent events that have led us to remind guests of appropriate behaviors required to participate” Additional safety / security protocols have been introduced based on recent behavior. ”

Among the actions prohibited by the policy is “any conduct that impedes, disrupts or disrupts or threatens to obstruct, disrupt or disrupt education, research, service, administrative or disciplinary functions or any activity sponsored or approved by the school district. ” The rules also prohibit “gross and openly offensive utterances, gestures or demonstrations and utterance, gesture or display [that] tends to encourage an immediate breach of the peace or engage in activities that make unreasonable noise that disrupt the education process, “and” physical abuse or threats of harm to any person on the School District owned or controlled property, or on the School District sponsored or supervised functions. ”

According to Hans, the fresh emphasis on appropriate meeting behavior was prompted by “several incidents of escalating and distracting behavior that have intimidated several guests,” including “several verbal confrontations.” Current board members “have not received direct threats,” she notes. “But they have received communications that are intimidating and threatening in nature.”

Board meetings have also inspired tailgating. While Hans says the district is not concerned about alcohol consumption at such gatherings that lead to problems, she notes that “we are concerned that rear bibs may occur near entrances and walkways that may intimidate individuals with differing views. and opinions. ”

As for the warnings about flags and signs, “when signs are hoisted, it distracts from the work being done and can also hamper guests’ ability to see what is happening,” she explains.

At the Nov. 9 meeting, board member David Ray, who will continue to serve after Nov. 30, reiterated the rules.

“The board would like all discourse in this space to take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect,” he said. “Everyone in this room plays an important role in modeling appropriate behavior and promoting an environment that is fair, safe and dignified. In order to maintain this decor and mutual respect, speakers are asked to refrain from using individual names on an offensive way, as well as by using derogatory statements or calls.This distracts only from the issue of concern.The expectation is that everyone who speaks tonight will be treated with respect, no matter what perspective they share.We want the boardroom to be somewhere , where politeness and decency prevail, and where freedom of speech is free from condemnation, harsh judgment and fear.To promote an atmosphere where all commentators can speak without intimidation and disruption, I would ask that there be no reaction after a comment is given. This includes applause., verbal comments, aggressive non-verbal behavior or judgmental tones. ”

A few minutes later, Benson stepped up on the podium, clearly ready to push back. His comments begin about 2 hours and 36 minutes into the video below:

“I never thought I would live the day when elected officials would ban the American flag anywhere and then see our leaders actually enforce this rule,” Benson began. “What do you think? You have been trying to suppress free speech in this district since day one, and now you have taken it to a level that this country has never seen before in our entire history.”

He continued: “Do you know what makes these meetings so long, besides the fact that you adopt policies that make everyone furious? That is because you keep stopping to tell us that this is not a “safe place” for everyone.At the last meeting there was only one person who said they feel insecure here and can you remember what that person did at the end of the meeting? It was the one who physically attacked someone because she did not agree with this speech.The person who is here again tonight sat in the front row all the time and she is actually checked out completely and knitting as she is again tonight.I is someone who is mentally checked, not someone who is scared. It is someone who is completely checked out so you can basically silence us. ”

Benson said he had planned to show some pictures, “but apparently pictures are too dangerous to bring in. I have a picture of you, third person from the right, because I can not say names” – but he could, and did, pointed to a board member – “mentally checked out on your phone while my wife, Dr. Hayley Benson, was speaking at our last meeting. You probably wrote to your friend in the front row, but why would you not care which health care staff should say when it does not support your opinion? ”

Benson characterized such behavior as disrespectful and maintained that “respect is what I get for supporting my wife and my country. But not even a minute after you sent text messages, you had the audacity to threaten to remove me from the room to cheer on my wife and wave my American flag. Do you want me arrested now for how I’re dressed? ”

After holding on for some time, Benson finally concluded that the decorum rules represent “a surefire way to destroy the American way of life that will only lead us down the path of division and self-destruction.”

Ray’s answer? Instead of urging Benson to be expelled, he said thank you and called the next person to the podium.

Click to read Douglas County School Boards meeting safety and security protocols.

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