Garfield Re-2 school board member resigns due to treatment over COVID-19 protocols, she says
Amid a turbulent Garfield Re-2 board meeting punctuated by an audience member being escorted out by law enforcement Wednesday, board member Katie Mackley announced her resignation.
“I apparently, mistakenly, felt that I had built long-standing relationships in this community that were built on trust and communication,” she said. “In the past month, it has become apparent that my goals for the district are no longer in alignment with those of the community, and many of the long-standing relationships that I have held dear were nothing more than an illusion.”
Mackley’s resignation comes in light of Re-2’s decision to implement mask mandates for all schools and buildings overseen by the district amid growing COVID-19 cases among staff and students.
Prior to the mandate, the district reported 56 new positive cases. Since the mask mandate went into effect Sept. 27, that number dropped to 17 new positive cases.
But regardless of data provided by the Garfield County Public Health office, some parents and district locals have continued to protest outside of the Re-2 administration building and essentially disrupt regular board meetings with raucous behavior.
“In the past few weeks, we have been met with screaming at school board meetings, threats to our personal safety, we have been repeatedly maligned and misrepresented on social media and have been stalked in public,” Mackley said. “One of my children has become the victim of retaliation, and people who I’ve known for many, many years have signed a petition intended to be used in a personal lawsuit against me.”
“I never could have imagined that these things were possible,” she added. “Especially over a piece of cloth.”
Mackley was elected in November 2019 to represent Director District C, which covers the south side of Rifle toward the rural south, parts of central Rifle and land south of Silt.
According to a Wednesday evening news release, the vacancy must be filled within 60 days. People interested in filling the vacancy must live within the boundaries of Director District C, be a registered voter as shown on the books of the county clerk and recorder, for at least 12 consecutive months before the appointment, be 18 years or older, and be a citizen of the United States.
A special meeting will be held 1 p.m. Friday at the Garfield Re-2 District Office to establish a process and timeline for the appointment. The District B seat must face election in the November 2023 election.
“It’s one thing to come after board members,” board member Anne Guettler said. “It’s another thing to come after their families.”
REMAINDER OF THE MEETING
Later at Wednesday’s meeting, district resident Sherronna Bishop, a former campaign aide for Rep. Lauren Boebert and conservative political activist, was accompanied by My Pillow founder Mike Lindell during a three-minute public comment session she made via Zoom.
Lindell, a Minnesota native and staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump who’s been mired in controversy surrounding false accusations over election fraud, correlated masks with “fiction.”
“There’s more science than you guys even know of,” Lindell said.
Following more public comments made by people opposing mask mandates, the board would later address district policy changes — which, being the first reading, did not elicit an official vote.
One proposed change, stated to follow state or federal laws, acknowledges student gender identity and expression.
Silt resident Gretchen Wettlin, the audience member who had to be escorted out by a Rifle police officer due disruptive behavior, spoke out in opposition to the proposed policy change.
Wettlin proposed that the board look inside themselves and ask their God if the policy is moral.
“If your God is government, I think there’s not a lot of hope for you,” she said. “But if you believe in God like I believe in a God, you have to draw the line some time. It doesn’t matter what the state recommendation is.”
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com.
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