By Megan Kelley
Over the past several months, Lake Orion Community School’s Board of Education has become accustomed to receiving feedback from parents and guardians throughout the district and their meeting on Oct. 28 was no different.
The board met for their first in-person meeting of the 2020-2021 school year with board and cabinet members sitting with plexiglass dividers between them, as well as wearing masks.
One notable exception was with Board President Jim Weidman, who was not wearing a mask.
District parent Jennifer Smith took the opportunity during public participation to address this.
“I came here to speak about one thing but I am extremely disappointed that I’m walking in here and seeing our board president without a mask and another board member with their nose sticking out of their mask and I’m wondering how you can expect parents to trust that you will enforce protocols when you yourselves are not using those protocols,” Smith said at the top of her comments.
Smith went on to give her own firsthand examples as to why she believes the district should continue remote learning as is, meaning remote learners continuing to learn via live lessons.
Smith explained that as a teacher herself, she teaches both in-person students and remote learners at the same time “seamlessly.”
Smith claimed that conducting remote learning that way would be far more conducive for “students who are at home for whatever reason, whether they should be quarantining or they don’t feel safe because a board president is not wearing a mask during a board meeting and cannot make parents feel safe that they can send our kids to our schools to follow the safety protocols.
“I have no confidence that our kids are going to be safe because I can see it’s not taken seriously by everybody,” Smith said.
While the LOCS school board traditionally upholds the practice of not responding to public participation, Weidman decided to sidestep that practice and respond to Smith stating, “I’m not compelled to share my medical information with you,” he said.
After a brief exchange between Smith and board Secretary Steve Drakos, Smith exited without further confrontation.
Later in the meeting, another district parent, Heather Sinawi, addressed the board to express her gratitude for the steps the district has taken in getting students back into their classrooms.