Ariz. School Board, Police Coordinated to Monitor, Arrest Unmasked Parents

Ariz. School Board, Police Coordinated to Monitor, Arrest Unmasked Parents Ariz. School Board, Police Coordinated to Monitor, Arrest Unmasked Parents Anti-vaccine mandate protesters rally outside the garage doors of the Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD headquarters in Los Angeles on Thursday Sept. 9, 2021. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

By Peter Malbin | Wednesday, 10 November 2021 12:17 PM

A local Arizona school board coordinated with the Chandler Police Department to compile information on parent groups that oppose mask mandates and the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the school system. They also coordinated to arrest unmasked parents who attend school board meetings, the Daily Caller reported.

Emails obtained by the blog "Not in our Schools" reveal that the Chandler Unified School District’s Director of School Safety communicated with local police sergeant Greg Howarth in April and May when parents started protesting mask mandates in schools.

On May 4, Tanya Smith, the district’s director of school safety, contacted Howarth to tell him that an upcoming school board meeting included a discussion on the mask mandates. Smith told the sergeant that she was monitoring social media to find out which parent groups planned to go to the meeting, and requested that police "please let us know" if they "hear anything specific."

Howarth said that he could access the concerned parent groups' websites and would "be monitoring all of them" and keeping the district informed.

In another email regarding a school board meeting, Smith said "CPD intel is relaying details on methods the group will be using tonight."

"They do plan to disrupt. We also discussed that Ms. Mozden may want to be prepared to cut the mic for anybody that follows through with removing their mask."

By May 27, the Chandler Police Department was "coordinating and running" an operation in conjunction with the school district, an email showed.

In his email, Howarth referred to three groups, including the pro-CRT group "Parents for Equity in Education."

The other two groups listed, including "Purple for Parents," oppose CRT and masking, and were labeled as "the disruptors."

The emails also show that the police strategy included arresting parents who did not comply with the mask mandate, the Daily Caller reported.

Jennifer Alvey, a parent with children in CUSD, told the Daily Caller she found the coordination "egregious" and said that it appeared the school board was looking to further intimidate parents from exercising their First Amendment rights.

"At worst, these emails would seem to indicate that CPD suggested to CUSD officials that they be anticipating and selectively looking for any opportunity to silence, trespass, [or] remove the anti-mask meeting participants, using CPD as the willing muscle to help CUSD remove we parents for non-legally-enforceable issues," Alvey said. "[This] is pretty egregious for we community members to contemplate."

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed a bill blocking state-run schools and government entities from requiring training in critical race theory.

School districts in Arizona can make their own decisions on whether to require masks for staff and students.

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