The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, September 28, 2021 8:30 pm

NACS parents put students in middle of mask protest

ASHLEY SLOBODA and JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Carroll High School students are getting caught in the middle of anger directed at Northwest Allen County Schools leaders.

Students participating in after-school activities Monday cut through a hallway crowded with parents holding "Unmask NACS Students Now" signs and chanting, "Himsel must go," referring to Superintendent Chris Himsel.

The adults also urged masked students to remove their face coverings, in violation of the district's rules.

The protesters showed up for a school board meeting, but six uniformed Allen County sheriff's officers kept all but 12 from entering the classroom where board members and administrators, including Superintendent Chris Himsel, conducted business. About a dozen people arrived early enough for seats, which were given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Afterward, administrators and board members unsuccessfully tried to wait out protesters wanting to engage with them in parking lots. One sergeant watched a group of people run after Himsel as he headed toward an exit, but that officer didn't hear any threats or other violent interaction, Sheriff David Gladieux said Tuesday.

Parents on social media have since shared stories of protesters making inappropriate comments to their children, and they are calling on the district to rethink the venue for board meetings.

"It is not a crowd you want your kids to be involved with," said Sarah Bridgwater, a parent who wants the district to follow the advice of public health experts, who recommend mask mandates. She got a seat at Monday's meeting by arriving about 90 minutes early.

Michael Adamson of the Indiana School Boards Association said the unruly behavior isn't unique to NACS. There are pockets of it statewide.

"People are acting out in a way that I think is really unparalleled in recent memory," Adamson said Tuesday. "People are just going nuts."


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