‘Gross overreaction’: Lebanon Community School’s board meeting recessed during public comments

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LEBANON, Ind.–  Lebanon Community Schools’ board meeting was recessed and the public comment portion came to an abrupt end after the board says members of the audience became unruly.

After audience members applauded 16-year-old LHS student, Claire Douglas, who spoke out against a possible mask mandate.  

“She was waiting for this moment to speak,” said her mom, Carrie Douglas.

Patrick Elmore, a Lebanon parent who was in attendance, says he wasn’t surprised things became heated because parents are tired of mandates being forced on their kids. 

“If you’re going to run these meetings in a way where public discourse and any expression in support for one side or the other is completely off the table, that’s not operating in the spirit of true transparency,” Elmore said.

Lebanon Community Schools denied our request for an interview but said, “We have and will continue to welcome public comment and input from all our stakeholders.”

“If you’re going to have public comment, you should have comment for everybody whether you agree with them or don’t agree with them,” said Kevin Dininger, a Lebanon parent. “The audience was being disruptive but I don’t believe the board members handled it the best either.

The meeting recessed for 38 minutes before the public was asked to leave and watch the rest of the meeting virtually. 

“It seemed like a gross overreaction,” Elmore said. “I had never seen anything like that.”

The board voted to extend their mask mandate until the end of the semester. 

Parents hope school officials will allow the public to speak at future meetings and continue to work together.

“There’s got to be a better way to do it,” Dininger said.

Lebanon Community School’s next board meeting is set for November 16th.  

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