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Wilson County Schools now requiring masks

School Board also censures member

The Wilson County School Board voted Monday night to require facial coverings in schools, prior to students returning to schools Aug. 17.

Chad Karl made a motion to require face coverings or face shields for all staff and students until the board rescinds it at a future meeting. The board approved the motion 5-2.

The district will not require children 12 years or younger to wear a face covering. The requirement also will not apply to those who have trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition or health-related reason.

Wilson County Schools said that the purpose of the face covering or face shield mandate is to help keep students, teachers and staff safe in schools, with the hopes of returning to traditional teaching and learning as soon as it is feasible.

Prior to the meeting, the Ethics Committee met to hear a report from a law firm following a sexual harassment allegation against a School Board member.

Deborah Owens, with Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt Law Firm, presented the report on the investigation of the sexual harassment allegation concerning Wayne McNeese to the Ethics Committee Monday night. The committee consists of Linda Armistead, Bill Robinson and Kimberly McGee.

Owens stated that the complaint filed by Mrs. Hyder was a proper complaint to come before the Ethics Committee; however, even though it was inappropriate and offensive, under the law it does not constitute sexual harassment. The findings of the investigation state that it is an ethical violation of a board member.

The law firm gave three recommendations: 1) Based on the conclusion of the investigation, to recommend a public censure for an offensive comment to an employee of the Wilson County School System; 2) Remind the Board that no retaliation or hostility for Mrs. Hyder or Mr. McNeese shall take place and if it does, the School Board will promptly act to remedy it; 3) Remind the School Board by law to ensure that all employees are free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.

All personnel will receive training on unlawful harassment and procedures to be used if harassment occurs.

Armistead made a motion to the School Board during its meeting to follow the recommendations of Owens.

During the discussion, McNeese asked to speak and stated, “I go along with the public censure, but sexual harassment as clearly defined was not determined to have occurred.”

The vote for the public censure passed 6-0 with McNeese abstaining.

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