Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘I felt everyone’s safety was at issue’: Caution drove decision to cancel meeting, CdA school board chair says

People stand in front of Coeur d’Alene Public Schools District Administration Offices while protesting a Coeur d’Alene School District meeting Friday on a renewed effort to implement a mask mandate.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

The decision to cancel Friday’s special meeting of the Coeur d’Alene Public Schools board was borne of caution and not the result of any direct threats against trustees or staff over the issue of masks, board chair Jennifer Brumley said Tuesday.

In a letter sent to families and staff, Brumley said the meeting was canceled because “the safety of the public attending the meeting, administrative staff, trustees and law enforcement were all at issue in my mind and I did not want to see anyone get hurt.”

Brumley added that her decision was based partly on information relayed by law enforcement “that individuals outside the door were discussing breaking it down and not abiding by the capacity limits.”

The board had scheduled the special meeting with the intention of discussing the issue of masks, and potentially a mandate. Anticipating that, a predominantly anti-mandate crowd of about 200 had gathered outside before it was scheduled to begin.

Some chanted “No More Masks” while police officers barred the door.

In the letter, Brumley said that “there were no threats to individuals that I was aware of.”

“That said, the situation created a very real chance someone could get hurt if all 200 individuals wanted into a building with a 72-person capacity,” she said. “I felt everyone’s safety was at issue and based on that I chose to not hold the meeting. After individuals outside were made aware the meeting was not going to occur, they were not happy.”

Many of the protesters moved on to the district offices off Northwest Boulevard, briefly occupying the lobby before being escorted out of the building.

“I was tearful and truly saddened,” Brumley said. “I was concerned for my safety, after the fact, in light of the anger over canceling the meeting.”

Following a consultation with law enforcement officials, board members chose to hold their next regular meeting, on Monday, via Zoom. Masks, however, will not be on the agenda.

Brumley also said that going into last week’s special meeting, the board “had not made a decision on a mask mandate.”

“There was no press conference announcing a mask mandate and there was never one scheduled,” Brumley said. “The board has not and did not decide to mandate masks despite rumor and conjecture.”

Also Tuesday, the district addressed rumors that masks were already delivered to schools with the intention of distributing them this week.

Scott Maben, the district’s director of communications, said mask supplies are continually replenished.

“On Friday, we sent additional masks to all of our schools in case the board, late that afternoon, approved a new mask requirement and made it effective Monday morning,” Maben said.

Without that precaution, Maben said, schools might not have had enough masks on hand had students arrived without them.

“These are masks that we would eventually send to schools at some point anyway,” Maben said.