Woman arrested at Timberlane School Board meeting after refusing to wear a mask

  • A man leaves the Timberlane Regional School Board meeting with his protest sign, passing a strong police presence. The meeting went from in-person to online after a group of people planning to speak against the district's masking mandate refused to put on face coverings for the meeting. —CARL RUSSO

  • Police presence was strong for the Timberlane School Board meeting where two protests were held. One group objects to mask mandates in schools, and the other wanted to speak out against cuts to the music department. Ultimately the meeting was moved online. —CARL RUSSO

  • Parent Melissa Marr said she was deeply upset at being denied the chance to speak when Thursday night's Timberlane Regional School Board meeting went from in-person to online after a group planning to oppose the district's mask policy refused to put on face coverings for the meeting. Marr says her nonverbal son cannot wear a mask and hasn't been supported by the school district. —CARL RUSSO

The Eagle-Tribune
Published: 5/21/2021 12:03:03 PM

The stage lights went dark early at Thursday night’s Timberlane Regional School Board meeting, when a group intending to speak against the district’s mask policy refused to put on face coverings while in the auditorium.

Roughly 100 people from two groups had gathered in the auditorium to speak against masks in schools or cuts to the music department. The majority showed up early to demonstrate for their separate initiatives on opposite ends of the school parking lot.

School Board Chairwoman Kim Farah said she spoke with New Hampshire State Police and local law enforcement in attendance before deciding to move the meeting online.

Farah’s decision to cancel the in-person meeting incited chaos and clear tension between the groups, as well as ire toward board members. 

Those in attendance chanted “let us speak,” and “cowards,” as board members exited. The only board member who supported, however, was Shawn O’Neil, from Danville, who had his face covering pulled down.

Police ultimately escorted everyone outside and closed the school building for the night. At least one person was arrested on disorderly conduct charges.

Melissa Marr, a mother of a 3-year-old boy with early intervention needs, was in tears.

“I got a babysitter so that I could be here to speak tonight. I just wanted to be heard,” she said.

She explained that her nonverbal son cannot wear a mask, but needs support from the school district. She said despite conversations with school leadership, he has not been accommodated.

Marr’s concerns were shared by others who surrounded her, including David Kiley. He planned to tell the board, “forced masking is a violation of our natural rights of life, liberty and property without due process.”

“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services guidance do not supersede the rights of the people,” he said.

Prior to the meeting's scheduled beginning, Jackie Wydola watched as her 57-year-old mother, Kate Bossi, was handcuffed by police and put in the back of a cruiser after refusing to wear a mask. Wydola said attempts to reach her mother by phone were unsuccessful, and she is unclear what charges her mother may face.

Some students, teachers and community members who intended to speak against cuts to the music department told Wydola and others “you’re ruining it for everyone.”

Their issue is that the district eliminated a full-time music director position for next year in the wake of current director Tony DiBartolomeo’s retirement.

The next in-person school board meeting is scheduled for two weeks.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. 


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