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News >  K-12 education

Two CdA school board members announce resignations following mask controversy

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 1, 2021

Two members of the Coeur d’Alene School Board announced their resignations on Friday, a week after a school board meeting was canceled as anti-mask protesters were escorted out of the lobby of school district offices by police.

Board Chair Jennifer Brumley and Trustee Tambra Pickford notified Board Clerk Lynn Towne of their intent to resign. They didn’t mention the swirling controversy about masks in their announcement, instead citing the need to spend more time with family and the demands of the office.

Neither Brumley nor Pickford was willing to speak to the media about their decisions, but Brumley had been open about the stress caused by the masking controversy in a meeting on Sept. 13 when the board approved a COVID-19 response plan that recommended, but did not mandate masks.

“The last two months have been very difficult for myself and my fellow trustees, and I’m sad that COVID has led this community to what my fellow board members have had to endure,” she said. “We still continue to get tacit threats from both sides. Both my colleagues that are in favor of a mask mandate have been intimidated and bullied. My two other colleagues that do not favor a mask mandate have been intimidated and threatened, personally, with lawsuits. Both sides of the masking issue in my opinion are being bullies and are using intimidation to get what they want.”

At its next regular meeting, Oct. 4, the board will be asked to accept the resignations.

The resignation announcement was made one week after a special board meeting on Sept. 24 on the issue of mask mandates was canceled over safety concerns.

Before the meeting was to begin in downtown Coeur d’Alene, a group of about 200 parents and community members gathered outside, chanting “No More Masks.”

After the meeting was canceled, some of the protesters drove to the district offices and rushed into the lobby before being escorted out by police officers.

At the Sept. 13 meeting, Brumley and Pickford voted in favor of a plan, which was approved 3-2, to recommend, not mandate, that students wear masks. The issue was expected to be discussed again at the meeting that was canceled as a result of the protests.

Brumley had staked a middle ground at the meeting. The plan originally did not stipulate that masks would be recommended. Brumley said at the meeting that she did not support a mandate, but successfully persuaded the board to include a line that masks would be “strongly recommended.”

Brumley was appointed to the board in September 2018.

“It has been my honor to represent this community and serve our students, families and educators as a member of the Coeur d’Alene School Board these past three years,” Brumley said in a statement.

“Although my term will end this December, I have decided to leave the board early to focus on professional and family priorities. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve as Chair of the Board of Trustees this year, and I am proud of the positive change the Board and District administration have worked on together since 2018.”

Pickford was elected to the Board in 2015 and re-elected in November 2019.

“Regrettably I must step down from the Board of Trustees. I no longer am able to devote the considerable amount of time that this position requires,” Pickford said. “We have an incredible school district here, and I want to thank all of our teachers, administrators and classified employees for their hard work and the dedication to students they provide each and every day.”

A new Trustee for Brumley’s seat will be sworn in at the January board meeting, following the outcome of the Nov. 2 election.

Pickford’s term is set to expire in December 2023. The Board will name a successor resident to serve the balance of the term as outlined in Idaho State Code.

Dr. Shon Hocker, the district’s first-year Superintendent, said, “It has been my pleasure working with Chair Brumley and Trustee Pickford. They truly care about children and desire to create an exceptional learning environment for all. I would like to thank them for their service. They will be missed.”

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