Statement from Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Menzel Regarding the Recess of the May 18, 2021 Governing Board Meeting

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 18, 2021) – The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board and I are disappointed that this evening’s regularly scheduled meeting had to be recessed because of non-compliance with district policy that visitors wear face masks at all times while on all district property.  After 1) explaining the policy to the audience, which is the district’s authority to establish, 2) asking that attendees put on masks in order for the meeting to begin and 3) setting up an overflow room where those who did not wish to comply could watch the meeting virtually, the Board voted to recess the meeting until a future time.

We understand that there are differing opinions on the need to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  We fall on the side of doing what is within our authority to do in order to protect the safety and well-being of our students and staff.  The district’s decision to maintain the mask policy through the end of the school year (May 27) was previously announced, as has the plan to make masks optional next fall.  Most of our students are either not eligible or have not been vaccinated, and by following a careful mitigation strategy devised in concert with local, state and federal health agency guidelines and recommendations, we have been successful in preventing our schools from becoming COVID breeding grounds.  As a result, we have been able to offer in-person learning opportunities to those students wanting and needing it since last fall.

As tonight’s Board meeting was the last one scheduled during the time students are in session, we had planned a time-honored SUSD tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of some of our outstanding students, especially our seniors who will graduate next week.  SUSD students have achieved great things this school year, despite limitations placed on them through no fault of their own due to the pandemic, and they should know that we recognize their tremendous effort.  It was our plan to honor them, as well as several staff members celebrating milestone anniversaries with the district, and also conduct the district’s regular business.

It is disappointing that several of the people in attendance tonight came to the meeting with the intention of disrupting it, with little regard for what we had hoped would be a special night.  Scottsdale Unified School District embraces and encourages diversity of thought, but not at the expense of decorum, safety and the rule of law.  The district will schedule a follow-up meeting with measures in place to ensure we can conduct business in a respectful environment.

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Statement issued at 9:11 p.m. May 18, 2021