MCCANDLESS, Pa. (KDKA) -- A North Allegheny school board meeting was shut down because disruptive parents would not comply with the district's mask mandate.
Parents planned on sharing their opinions with the school board, but things got out of hand and the meeting ended before it could begin on Wednesday. There were heated arguments outside and inside the meeting. Parents were chanting "freedom" and "let them breathe."
Some parents were wearing masks, and others would not put them on.
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"We cannot continue with this meeting until everyone is wearing a mask," said board member Scott Russell.
The board made it clear everyone had to wear a mask because a judge approved a temporary restraining order against the district and board on Monday, which reinstated a mask mandate. Many parents still refused to put masks on in the meeting.
The board decided to adjourn the meeting because of those who wouldn't mask up.
"All right, have a good night, we'll see you in September," said Andrew Chomos, president of the school board.
A group of parents filed the motion for a temporary restraining order after the board voted to overturn the superintendent's mask requirement.
"We have everybody under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated so masks are the second-best option, therefore, the only option now," said their attorney Alexander Saksen with Goldbert, Kamin, and Garvin Law Firm.
Victoria Klaus said hundreds of parents, who are against masks for their kids in schools, plan on taking legal action as well.
"We have affidavits that have been notarized and signed, we have lawyers, we are looking to pursue some kind of legal action or criminal charges against the abuse and neglect and unfairness that's been bestowed upon our children and the damages that have been done to the children and their families," Klaus said.
Parents on both sides of the argument were planning to speak on Wednesday night.
"It is unhealthy, there's no proof in science that masks hurt, and they inhibit learning for our children," said parent Dana Gibson.
Parents who are medical professionals showed up to voice concerns about the surge of COVID-19 cases and said hospitals are full right now.
"We're burned out, we are very burned out. Our ERs are extremely full, our waiting rooms are full across the city," said Dr. Brent Rau of Allegheny General Hospital.
"We all want our kids to be able to live their lives, to grow up and be healthy and happy adults. We are not going to get there if we do not keep them safe. The best way to get our kids back in school where they can stay in school is with universal masking," Dr. Sylvia Choi, a pediatrician at UMPC Children's Hospital.
There was an action item on the agenda for Wednesday's meeting to rescind the board's action that made masks optional and adopt the superintendent's recommendation to require them indoors. The board never got to any items on the agenda.
The next school board meeting is on Sept. 22.
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