Mask issue causes tempers to flare between board members

Grams accuses administrator of making threat if staffer doesn’t wear mask
Mart Grams
By: 
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Tempers flared briefly during a Shawano School Board workshop Monday regarding school reopening plans when board member Mart Grams claimed a staff member had been told masks would be required in school.

Grams said he had heard from a teacher who claimed to be told by an administrator that, despite the proposed plan that states masks would not be required but highly encouraged by students and staff with some exceptions, the coverings would be a requirement at all times in school. He would not identify specifically who made the claim or which school the charge comes from, saying that administrators would retaliate.

“A principal said, ‘If you want to work here, you’d better learn to wear a mask,” Grams said.

Board president Tyler Schmidt interjected at that point and said the board couldn’t take action based on anonymous accusations, at which point, Grams slammed his hand on the table.

“I heard it!” Grams shouted before accusing Schmidt of having “a bug up your butt” every time he speaks. “All of these are emails I have directly received today.”

“Then forward them on to the appropriate people,” Schmidt said in reply.

Other board members also chastised Grams, claiming there is a protocol for staff complaints.

“You’re not elected, Mart, to micromanage the school,” said board member Chuck Dallas. “You’re to take those concerns to Randi (Anderson, district superintendent) or the person that supervises.”

“Raising your voice doesn’t help,” board member Diane Hoffman said to Grams.

Scott Zwirschitz, Shawano Community High School principal, told the board that he had made a comment earlier in the year, when it was unclear what requirements would need to be implemented, that if any staff members “have any concerns about masks, you should probably get used to wearing them because we’re probably going to have some requirement.”

“If Mart wants to change that to I made a threat that they’re not going to be able to work here, that’s inaccurate,” Zwirschitz said. “If you’re going to fabricate my story, I would appreciate you saying if it was me who said it.”

The proposed plan has teachers being required to put on a face covering when physical distancing of 3-6 feet cannot be achieved. The plan has not been formally approved yet.

“In this situation (with the masks), there is no black and white,” Anderson said. “There is just a lot of gray.”

This is not the first time Grams has been at odds with the rest of the board. On July 12, the other eight members of the board censured Grams and recommended he resign his post after he posted on Facebook: “You know George Floyd has been drug free for 2 months.”

lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com