Alpharetta parent Danielle Denlien urged — unsuccessfully — that members of the Fulton County School Board abolish the COVID-19 mask mandate they impose upon students.
But before she could finish, a law enforcement officer escorted her away from the podium during the public comment phase of this week’s meeting.
Someone recorded the incident and posted a video on YouTube.
Denlien told The Georgia Star News Thursday she wanted to speak on behalf of students who — like her — have health issues so unique that wearing a mask jeopardizes their physical well-being. Denlien said she has a heart condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). She said she lost 40 percent of her heart muscle, and her heart doesn’t pump blood to the rest of her organs properly. The condition reduces her oxygen. Per doctor’s orders, she said she doesn’t wear a mask.
“I need to breathe with my heart condition. I wrote the board of education prior to the meeting about my medical situation, and I let them know I was covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act and asked to be allowed to take my mask off at the podium. They said no — without reason — and recommended I either email my speech or have someone else speak on my behalf. I just said I would be there in person,” Denlien said.
“I had my mask on when I got up and wanted everyone in the room to know. I was denied that request, even though the Disability Act gave me the right to take the mask off. I was told I couldn’t, and if I couldn’t follow the rules then I had to leave or stop talking. Then the police came toward me. I asked if I could put my mask back on and finish my speech. The police said ‘No, I need to escort you out.’”
Denlien’s daughter picked up where her mother left off and used up what remained of her mother’s allotted four minutes.
The YouTube video shows Denlien’s daughter, name unknown, telling school board members that masks don’t stop the spread of COVID-19.
Fulton County School System (FCSS) officials told The Star News they follow recommendations from the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Fulton County Board of Health, and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Masks are required for all attendees at board meetings. When individuals or speakers do not comply with these requirements, they impact others in attendance. All participants should be respectful of these rules. If or when they are not, we will ask them to comply with the requirements or leave,” FCSS staff said in an email.
“The speaker did contact the district prior to the May 4 meeting requesting to be exempted from the mask requirement while at the podium. We communicated that due to current health and safety concerns, we cannot offer a waiver of the mask requirement.”
FCSS officials said they offered Denlien the option to submit written or pre-recorded comments or to allow a designated person to read her comments on her behalf.
‘I Want My Children Free from This’
Another YouTube video shows another parent telling board members at this week’s meeting that she was an unhappy voter and an unhappy taxpayer.
The Star News did not hear the woman identify herself in the video.
“I am in the business of raising strong, independent, intelligent women like all of you,” the woman said.
“I am not in the business of raising adults who cower to fear. I want my children free from this.”
Another woman, who identified herself as a former Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) president, said the school district’s mask mandate was “a form of oppression” that “has no positive bearing on the health of our students and staff.”
“With this mask mandate you continue to impose fear mongering,” the former PTA president said, as shown on another YouTube video.
“Merely by attending school in person my daughter has been on the receiving end of this type of targeting this very semester, along with her classmates.”
FCSS officials said Superintendent Mike Looney will take “a measured, cautious approach to relaxing COVID-19 protocols, which includes updating COVID-19 restrictions and mask mandates in phases.”
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