Montgomery County School Board chair, Susan Kass, stormed out of a public meeting after trying to silence a parent who showed Facebook photos of the board woman congregating in a crowd without a mask
A Montgomery County Virginia school board member stormed out of a public meeting after trying to silence a parent and threatened to have her forcibly removed by a police officer because the parent showed Facebook photos of the board member violating mask rules.
The fracas is just the latest public confrontation that are happening across the country between parents, students and school officials over mandatory mask policies in public schools.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkins recently signed a bill into law that would make wearing a mask in a public school optional.
The new law brought angry parents like Alecia Vaught, a self-described homemaker, out to the February 15 meeting to give the board a piece of their minds.
She began her address by touting the law as a necessary corrective against what she said was the school board’s overreaching mandatory mask policy.
‘We’re taking the power out of your hands and putting it back with the parents, the way it should be,’ Vaught said, standing at the microphone in a yellow flowered blouse and business suit..
An empty seat at the front of the room was where Montgomery County School Board chair Susan Kass was sitting before she got fed up over and argument with a parent and stormed out
Parent Alecia Vaught, left, held up photos of Montgomery County School Board chair Susan Kass, right, that she said showed her flouting mask rules. Kass walked out in a huff
She then took the board to task, singling out chairwoman Susan Kass, who she said yelled at her for taking off her mask the last time she attended a public meeting.
‘We sat here last year and listened to you guys preach to us about Governor Northam’s executive orders and how we must follow them. Remember that?’ she said, referring to former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam who made masks mandatory for all public school kids K-12.
‘Here’s a governor that comes into office, but yet you don’t want to follow his orders. Why is that? Why is it different from last year when we were here to this year? Vaught said. ‘Two different governors, different political parties. So we’re supposed to follow it last year, but not this year? That makes no sense, and it makes all of you a bunch of hypocrites.’
Board chair Susan Kass called on an officer in the back of the room to come forward hustle parent Alecia Vaught away from the mic
‘We’re coming for your seat’ Alecia Vaught, left, told Montgomery County School Board chair Susan Kass, right, as she stalked out of a public meeting. ‘You can have it’ Kass replied
Kass called an officer from the back of the room to try to silence Alecia Vaught, pictured in yellow at the microphone, but the officer did not intervene
Vaught then held up her phone and showed photos from Kass’s Facebook page apparently showing the board chair in public social settings without a mask on.
‘Here’s a picture of you right here on Facebook with a crowd of people with no mask on,’ she said.
At that point Kass, a former teacher who works in HR at Virginia Tech, cut in and told her that she would not be given any more time to speak.
Alecia Vaught, a parent with kids in the Montgomery County School District, called out the school board for not supporting rolling back mask mandates
‘I’m sorry Ms. Vaught, you are done if you are going to if you are going to sit there and disparage a member of our school board, you can sit down,’ Kass said. ‘I am not going to sit here, this is not about you anymore. Can we have a officer, please?’
At that point, an officer in the back of the room came forward and stood to the left of Vaught, but did not hustle her away from the mic.
Another board member, Jamie Bond, defended Vaught’s right to speak.
‘She should be able to say her piece,’ Bond said. ‘I’ve had to listen to people come and criticize me.’
‘That doesn’t make it right, Jamie,’ Kass said. ‘That’s my family.’
Vaught continued to bait Kass.
‘What do you think about our family? Our family has been suffocated to death with your policies,’ Vaught said.
The board chairwoman got up at that point, walked around the dais and past Vaught, who said, ‘We’re coming for your seat.’
‘You can have it,’ Kass shot back.
The Montgomery County School Board was force to abandon strict Covid-19 mask mandates after the Virginia governor signed a law making them optional in all public schools
Vaught then announced that anyone looking to run for the Montgomery County School board could attend two free training sessions being held in March at the Christiansburg bowling alley.
Kass later issued a statement apologizing for walking out.
‘I wish I had reacted differently,’ she said. ‘But when someone is scrolling through your personal FB trying to prove something that isn’t true, and now they are threatening to show photos of your family, you become protective. She is trying to paint me as a hypocrite because I spent time with family and friends who are vaccinated and boosted at people’s homes. I have not asked anyone to do something that I haven’t done myself. I have elderly parents that I also need to protect.’
Wearing a properly fitting, N95 or KN95 mask can a reduce a person’s likelihood of being infected from Covid by 83 percent, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found last year.
Kass told the Roanoke Times that her father was in the hospital, but she felt dutybound to honor her commitment and show up at the meeting.
“I volunteered to do this because I care about teachers, and I care about students,” she told the paper.