SIDNEY — During the December Sidney City Schools Board of Education meeting, a district resident voiced her concern about the inconsistencies on how the mask mandates were being applied.
Jessica DeWeese questioned why the board doesn’t have a policy on the acceptance or denial of exemptions as covered by orders issued by Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health.
DeWeese said she has submitted three exemption forms, which she feels fall within the state guidelines.
“The school district is both discriminating and segregating my child from a proper public education as online learning is no equivalent and I had already voiced my concerns with the remote learning to the Middle school Principal; Diane Voress,” DeWeese said in an email to the Sidney Daily News. “Lastly; the district seems to believe that unalienable rights end when a virus emerges.”
What follows is DeWeese’s statement to the board of education at the Dec. 15 meeting.
“Since July I have been trying to work with the Middle school, superintendent, and district to see to it my daughter gets the public education she is entitled to as an Ohio citizen and US born American. In July I inquired about getting a mask exemption form to cover Lance Hime’s latest amendments to the facial covering mandates, which now included several new medical clauses as well as religious rights to exemption. At that time I was told, by SMS Principal Voress, that one would be available but with being such a new change in orders wasn’t available yet. I later, several weeks later, reached out to the district via their active FaceBook page requesting the form only to be told there wouldn’t be one,” said DeWeese.
“I went ahead and created one much like the forms used for vaccine exemptions under religious rights only for Superintendent Humble to tell me I needed a signature from my pastor. My rights to my religious beliefs are not on trial or to be tested; as noted in Attorney General William Barr’s Memorandum on this very topic. However, despite knowing Superintendent Humble was breaking both constitutional law and Ohio Revised Code, I did get my pastor’s signature which he then again denied. Every time he made a self proclaimed ‘rule’ for filing for an exemption that I met he changed the rules. This time he claimed my pastor’s signature was no good because my, and my family’s beliefs, are not perfectly 100% in line with the sect of church we attend; However, my exemption form has our religion defined as non-denomination Christians; meaning we do not ascribe to any particular sect/interpretation but read the Holy Bible ourselves, have an intimate relation with our Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ and use God given discernment to understand his living breathing word. The Constitution , Ohio Revised Code & Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 all give protection to these very types of denomination’s interpretation versus the individual follower’s interpretation variations,”she continued.
“Through all of this my daughter was coerced into remote learning as the district’s attorney states ‘Giving an education remotely is a reasonable accommodation’ however, I beg to differ. My typical honor roll student (since she has been in school; she is now an 8th grader) is receiving C’s regularly. She was forced out of: band, student body council, battle of the books, ability to see her friends, and into a world where teachers routinely don’t show up for scheduled ‘conference times”. She is completely disengaged and being part of a thrown away society. All the issues I’ve seen in remote learning I’ve expressed to Principal Voress, and to no surprise nothing has changed with her educators. I would like to know which in person learner shows up to a classroom with no instructor but a list of work on the board and some YouTube videos to watch? I would like to know which in person learner has only 4 ‘core classes’, zero interaction with other’s in their own age group, etc. This is not an equivalent, it is nowhere even close; it is failing our kids. It’s also not permissible under any law, state or federal, to segregate a child from a public learning building on foundations of religious discrimination which is exactly what Principal Diane Voress and Superintendent Bob Humble are actively doing, and the School Board is allowing to happen,” said DeWeese.
“Anyways, I got a doctor’s note for my daughter for a mask exemption which I turned in when the learning preferences opened up and once again Bob Humble denied it because, and I quote, ‘I am not allowing exemptions from a chiropractor.’ Now, this is a big problem as I had submitted a public records request which Treasurer Mike Watkins handled and in that request I received the following answer ‘No such document exists as the Board abides by the orders from the Governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Health’ to the following two questions: 1) The school districts board approved policy on student mandated facial coverings as well as the date that the policy was approved. And 2) The school district’s board approved policy on the approval of facial covering exemptions as well as the date that the policy was approved. To remind you, the Orders on Masks do have exemptions tied to them for both religious or Mmdical and the Ohio department of Health’s stance as per their written minutes of one of their conference calls in late summer/early fall are as follows: ‘PQ4: How do local health departments handle mask exemptions from chiropractors? Can schools accept these?’”
The answers, she said, is Medical Board is looking at health exceptions. Mask exemptions can be issued by chiropractors and other medical professionals.
“Under the above, it stands to reason Superintendent Bob Humble has zero ground for denying any or all of the exemption forms he has been provided with by me; even acting outside of the district’s very own policy of simply following the orders and guidance of governor and the ODH; all of which I made sure to mention to Humble. And it has absolutely not gone unnoticed that Bob Humble himself ‘has an exemption from wearing a mask’ and is using the unapproved face shield while in the building with school children, teachers, and other staff; or that he wore zero facial protection and did not observe social distancing with adult graduates throughout the fall for photo ops. It would seem that rules Humble wishes to instill only affect others and are not applicable to himself; which is definitely not an image of a Leader or a role model,” she said.
Because DeWeese had meet the time limit for comments during the public participation portion of the board meeting, the following statement wasn’t presented to the board.
“I’m bringing this to you because as an elected representative you took an Oath of Office which states you will uphold the laws and the constitution; and as long as Humble is being allowed free range to break laws under the Ohio Revised Code and the US Constitution you are failing at your post. I understand that the ‘board isn’t highly involved in the daily operations of the school district’ but ‘employ a qualified Superintendent and Treasurer’ but I would argue the competency of the hired Superintendent. You currently have a community that doesn’t support the district as seen by several failed levies. And I truly believe with everything in me that the same people who vote ‘no’ at the election polls do want the absolute best for the kids, but feel like I do; that the district is broken and no amount of money will fix it until the internal workings are fixed. One of the big problems being Superintendent Bob Humble. From failure to observe recall rights, acting on his own accord outside of district policy, his grandstanding and pompous nature, to his over zealous price tag for a job he’s frankly failing at. The community has little faith in the district and growing dissatisfaction in the board members as well. Though it may not be the desire of the board members to be involved much in the inner-workings they should be aware and overseeing how things are playing out; being blissfully or willfully unaware doesn’t absolve your complicity,” she concluded