4 Arizona School Board Members Face Recall Over Mask Mandate

By Allan Stein
Allan Stein
Allan Stein
Allan Stein is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Arizona.
August 26, 2021 Updated: August 26, 2021

Four members of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board in Arizona face recall petitions after voting Aug. 17 to require masks be worn inside school buildings in response to a recent uptick in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus infections among students.

The two petitions name SUSD Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg and members Julie Cieniawski, Patty Beckman, and Libby Hart-Wells. Zach Lindsay, who voted against the mask mandate, is not included in either petition.

Patricia Lee Pellet, a Scottsdale resident, filed a petition demanding the recall of Greenburg, citing his “disregard” for district parents, teachers, staff, “and especially the students.”

“Under his leadership, the mental and emotional health of many SUSD students has steadily declined to an alarming level,” the petition states. “The education of all SUSD students has suffered and continues to suffer.”

The CCP virus, commonly known as the coronavirus, is the pathogen that causes COVID-19.

The petition claims that parents are “not allowed to have a voice in the upbringing, education, health care, or mental health of their children as it relates to decisions being made by Jann-Michael Greenburg.”

“This is a direct violation of parental rights under Arizona law. Parents, teachers, staff, and students do not feel like they have a voice and feel silenced and disrespected,” the petition adds.

Cieniawski and Hart-Wells are included in the petition but are not directly named.

Both petitions filed with the superintendent’s office need 29,935 signatures to move forward.

Pellet said her main reason for filing the petition is “over parental rights.”

There are “so many angry parents who need [to be] heard and not have it sound like it’s just over masks,” Pellet said in a text message to The Epoch Times.

Asked whether she feels the petition will be successful, Pellet responded, “I’m known for winning all my battles,” and declined further comment.

Scottsdale resident Nicole Curtis has filed a separate recall petition against Beckman.

Curtis could not be reached for comment.

Beckman did not respond to an email requesting comment.

In response to the petitions, Greenburg said Wednesday the board will “remain focused on implementing our district’s vision of engaging all students in world class, future focused learning and getting the necessary work done to accomplish this goal.”

“There are some in our community who are tired of progress and want to go back to where we were before, posing as many distractions as possible. But they are wrong,” Greenburg said in an email to The Epoch Times. “We must remain focused on better new days. We must go forward or founder.”

The SUSD mask mandate follows recent votes by the Phoenix Union and Flagstaff Unified school districts to require masks.

On July 27, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, reiterated the state’s prohibition of mask mandates, “or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change.”

The CDC is “recommending that we wear masks in school and indoors, regardless of our vaccination status. This is just another example of the Biden-Harris administration’s inability to effectively confront the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ducey said in a statement.

He added that getting vaccinated is the best weapon against COVID-19.

At an SUSD Governing Board meeting on Aug. 24, a large group of parents gathered outside to oppose the district’s mask mandate that runs through late September.

According to a post at Schoolboardwatch.org, a conservative watchdog group, the meeting was “filled with passion, tension, and a lack of empathy from the board.”

“As roughly 200 people stood outside, voicing their frustrations, the board showed nothing but disrespect for both parents and students.”

“Concerned parents gathered outside were solely focused on gaining signatures to recall the four board members who voted to take away parental freedom,” the post added.

In an Aug. 13 letter to parents, SUSD Superintendent Scott Menzel announced 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since students returned to school in early August.

There were 31 confirmed cases among students who stayed at home, and 150 students with symptoms who were sent home.

In addition, 632 students were quarantined as “close contacts” with infected students, in compliance with Maricopa County Department of Public Health guidelines, Menzel said.

Allan Stein
Allan Stein
Allan Stein is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Arizona.