SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City School District held a Board of Education meeting on Feb. 15 in which the mask mandate and a resolution to support teachers against “uncivil” acts were topics of contention.
While transitioning into the public comment period, Board President Anjeanette Emeka asked community members in attendance to put on masks several times while postponing the speakers. Due to their refusal the Board voted 5-4 to take a 10-minute recess and asked the public to leave the room. After the recess the meeting continued as scheduled with the public
Later in the meeting, the Board discussed the draft of a resolution to support educators in the district against “uncivil” discourse from the community, including discourse on social media.
Board Member Amanda Ellithorpe stated that she supports the resolution for what it is intended to do. She went on to ask if members of the board are considered “stakeholders” in which the resolution states “should always endeavor to set the highest standards of conduct in terms of civility, manners, and decorum, as an example for the young people in our district,” which was affirmed. Ellithorpe then read a post from social media in which a community member was called an offensive slang word for the shirt he was wearing – a post that was “liked” by two current members of the board. In doing so, Ellithorpe pointed out the hypocrisy of this matter.
Board President Emeka scolded Ellithorpe for bringing up things that happened on social media that is not “district business” and that for members of the board to be careful of what they “like” on social media would be “giving up their First Amendment right.” Emeka told Ellithorpe she was “conflating” things – only furthering Ellithorpe’s point about hypocrisy.
Other board members who backed Ellithorpe also mentioned other things surrounding the matter that needed work. For example, the resolution was drafted by only three members of the board, and words such as “civil” and “uncivil” are subjective.
The resolution will have a second reading at the next BOE meeting on March 1. The resolution as it stands from the Feb. 15 board meeting can be found in the agenda on the district’s website (www.saratogaschools.org) under the Board of Education tab. View the full meeting here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjnTdNlc-Gs.