BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR)– On Tuesday, the Montgomery County School Board held its regularly scheduled meeting, but that meeting ended up being far from regular as a discussion about masks mandates turned into a dramatic face-off between the school board chair and a parent.
The meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15 featured a public conversation about masking in school that quickly heated up. At one point, a parent, Alecia Vaught, and Montgomery County School Board Chairwoman Susan Kass got into an argument that resulted in Kass storming out of the room.
Vaught says that it all started at the school board’s last meeting when she and The Second Monday Constitution Group, which she founded, were scolded by Kass for reportedly not wearing masks inside the meeting room.
On Tuesday, Vaught came to address that scolding, saying that she felt disrespected when Kass started the public address without recognizing parents as speakers.
“It’s very concerning that you would take the power of the parents and Ms. Kass, I would like to point out real fast. This is the time we get to hear from the students, staff, and from community members,” said Vaught. “You did not mention parents one bit, and I think that is a big issue for Montgomery County School Board because you guys do not like the parents.”
That’s when Vaught started showing public Facebook pictures of Kass not wearing a mask with family members in her home. According to Vaught, she feels this is hypocritical of Kass to expect an entire school district to wear masks when she does not do it herself.
However, things quickly escalated, with Kass saying she felt it was inappropriate and out of line to show those photos. She interrupted Vaught, banging her gavel and asking the parent to leave.
“This is my family,” Kass screamed at Vaught and another school board member, Jamie Bond.
The school board then called in a Montgomery County law enforcement officer and Kass walked out of the meeting.
In a phone interview with WFXR News, Kass says that she feels it was all a personal attack.
“It was very much pointed at me and pointed at trying to disparage me to get me to leave the school board,” said Kass.
Then, she addressed the Facebook photos.
“Well, yeah of course I don’t wear a mask with my family that I have been with throughout COVID,” said Kass.
According to Kass, that public address is meant for everyone to express their opinions, not for political purposes.
“It’s civil discourse. We should all try to be civil to each other to get your point across it doesn’t require name-calling or trying to make someone look bad,” Kass explained.
Kass says that Montgomery County School Board members are volunteers who want what is best for the school district and the community, as well as listen to people who want to come and share their feelings with them.
WFXR News’ Kelsey Jean-Baptiste spoke with Vaught briefly on the phone. Vaught says that she does not want people to think of her as someone who randomly attacked Kass, adding that there is a history behind the interaction.
The one thing Vaught wants to get across is that she feels Montgomery County Public Schools does not care for the parents’ feelings, opinions, or right to choose what they think is best for their families.
Kass was asked if she is stepping down from the school board, but she says she will not comment on that at this time.
You can watch a full recording of Tuesday night’s Montgomery County School Board meeting by clicking here.