Coeur d'Alene School Board accepts two resignations in first meeting since disruptive mask protest

<p><p>Monday night’s virtual meeting of the Coeur d’Alene Schools board of trustees, its first since a crowd of protesters angry over a proposed mask mandate led to that meeting’s cancellation, avoided talk of face coverings but touched on other COVID-19 issues and the process to fill two unexpected vacancies.</p></p><p><p>Since the controversial Sept. 24 meeting, board President Jennifer Brumley and Trustee Tambra Pickford suddenly resigned. Both cited family reasons, but at a meeting earlier in the month, Brumley said “both sides of the masking issue in my opinion are being bullies and are using intimidation to get what they want.”</p></p><p><p>The resignations left three board members – the bare minimum needed – to carry on Monday night via Zoom. For the first 10 minutes, they didn’t even have that, as Lisa May struggled with her internet connection.</p></p><p><p>Getting on with business, May, Rebecca Smith and Casey Morrisroe moved through the agenda. Significantly, it didn’t include the subject of COVID-19, even as the district reported 35 new positive cases in the previous days. Also absent was the question of masks, the hot-button issue that sparked the protests on Sept. 24.</p></p><p><p>The pandemic still lurked in the background, as trustees discussed a proposal to allow staff members to “borrow” against future sick days should they run out of accrued time.</p></p><p><p>The district currently has 32 staffers out with COVID-19.</p></p><p><p>“I’ve heard from several staff members that this has been frustrating for them that they have already had to use a personal time because they’ve been out sick with COVID,” said May, the Zone 1 trustee.</p></p><p><p>“I don’t want to incentivize staff to come and work sick, especially until all students have access to get vaccinated,” May said.</p></p><p><p>No action was taken, but trustees agreed to take up the matter at a later meeting.</p></p><p><p>By then, the board could be whole again.</p></p><p><p>The resignations were accepted by a unanimous vote, followed by expressions of gratitude.</p></p><p><p>“I just want to say I’d like to thank Trustee Pickford and Brumley for their time,” Morrisroe said. “Last week, when someone on an impulse asked me what my reaction was, my very quick off-the-top-of-my-brain reaction was that I was sad, and a little jealous.”</p></p><p><p>Much of the night was spent in the technicalities of filling the two vacancies.</p></p><p><p>According to Idaho law, school boards have 90 days to appoint someone to an unexpired term. Brumley’s seat in Zone 4 already was up for election, so that issue was easy.</p></p><p><p>All three trustees agreed not to fill the position before the Nov. 2 election.</p></p><p><p>“I think it only makes sense to not appoint that position and just allow the new trustee to take that position,” Morrisroe said. “Perhaps we offer whoever wins the election to come on sometime in December, or whatever, to start early if they so choose.”</p></p><p><p>Filling Pickford’s position at Zone 3 is trickier, as her term was not set to expire until December 2023. Technically, the board has until Jan. 4 to make the appointment.</p></p><p><p>According to Idaho statute, if the board is unable to fill the vacancy with a qualified person from the zone vacated within that time frame, it may appoint a person at-large from within the boundaries of the school district.</p></p><p><p>If the vacancy remains unfilled after 120 days, the Kootenai County board of commissioners would make the appointment.</p></p><p><p>In the meantime, the board will hold its Nov. 1 meeting in person and allow public comment, said Smith, the vice chair.</p></p>