Scottsdale Police: Disruption of school board meeting appeared to be a 'coordinated effort'

On May 21, officials with the Scottsdale Unified School District held a news conference to address concerns surrounding a school board meeting that descended into chaos.

Related: Meeting chaos: Scottsdale Unified School Board ends meeting when attendees refuse to wear masks

The meeting happened on the night of May 18. Over 100 people were in attendance during the meeting, and prior to the start of the meeting, a flyer inviting people to speak out against several issues was circulated.

"There were a lot of parents there, and a lot of parents weren’t wanting to wear the masks and put them on. But it was not about the masks, more it was about standing up for parent's rights," said Amy Carney with Arizona Parents Rights and Education. "We wouldn't have had this issue if our mask mandate had been lifted in Scottsdale Unified as well, so a lot of parents, I think, were pushing back on that."

The meeting abruptly ended when board members became upset with attendees who refused to wear masks.

Meeting addresses ‘misinformation’ about what happened

School District Superintendent Scott Menzell called the meeting to address what he called misinformation about what happened.

According to Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther, the department has been monitoring ‘chatter’ about the meeting online.

"We saw some of the same folks on the 18th at the SUSD Board meeting that they saw in Peoria, that they saw elsewhere. Same names, same faces, gathering supports or followers to participate in the meeting that are not connected to Scottsdale," said Chief Walther.

Menzel said they’ve received mostly supportive emails from people they know to be parents, and then a mix of angry emails from some parents and people from outside groups. Menzel said their mask requirements were in place until the end of the school year, and vaccine mandates or Critical Race Theory topics weren’t even on the agenda.

"This is different. I think in large part because of the pandemic. People are frustrated, they’re tired, there have been all sorts of information. You hear one thing in August and something different in October, and the story keeps changing so people don’t know what to believe. It’s also a political environment that was highly charged around the 2020 election. You have a lot of different moving parts and pieces," said Dr. Menzel.

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