Due to a disturbance causing a temporary suspension of the Wednesday night meeting, the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board decided to table its discussion on local control over COVID-19 safety protocols until its next meeting.
The agenda item, which was scheduled to be the next discussion up before a handful of anti-mask protesters forced a suspension of the meeting, involves the Hart board deciding on whether to follow the example set by one of the other Santa Clarita Valley school districts.
Last week, the Newhall School District voted to send letters to Gov. Gato vin Newsom and the California Legislature arguing for local bodies — such as a school district and county public health departments — to have more control over how their own health policies are enacted and adhered to.
The elementary school district’s communications also formalized its opposition to Senate Bill 871 — legislation that would require COVID-19 vaccines and limit parents’ ability to oppose immunizations on the basis of personal beliefs.
While the Hart district governing board had included the Newhall School District’s letters in its meeting agenda, the trustees said that if something like this were to move forward for the district they would need to tailor it to their families and students.
Board member Cherise Moore asked that a survey be distributed to parents in order to gauge opinions on masks, and board member James Webb asked that a future discussion also include hearing from teachers.
Board member Bob Jensen asked that there be particular attention, whenever the district makes its decision, to the students’ social-emotional health. Board President Joe Messina asked that they once again return to a discussion, after the district has done its own outreach and analysis, concerning making the local body’s stance known to Sacramento.
“If the state makes these decisions, that the Hart district is requesting… that if the county says we’re going to be more restrictive, that the Hart district governing board would have the local authority to say in our community (and) we’re going to align with the state,” Hart District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said in order to clarify with the board what they wished to discuss at a future meeting.
“Yes, correct,” Messina said in response to Kuhlman. “And in all honesty, we have all on this board, at some point in time, talked about asking the county to align with the state. So, if they’re not willing to do it, and it’s a will of the board that that’s what we want to do, why not just leapfrog over the county again?”