NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – One Norman school board member is responding after controversial comments at a Monday meeting drew the attention of the governor’s office.
Linda Sexton passionately expressed concerns just before the meeting’s end, specifically on how many students would be left susceptible to the COVID virus with no mask mandate.
“I’m very angry about the idea that children are going to be exposed to a virus five times more contagious than the one that we masked everybody from last year,” Sexton said. “If there’s any way between now and the beginning of school that we can get this changed, I hope we can because it’s just not OK for kids to commit murder for coming to school without a mask.”
Sexton also called on her colleagues and other districts to explore legal ways to circumvent Senate Bill 658, which prevents state schools from implementing mask mandates.
“I want to pursue legal avenues that we have to defy Governor Stitt,” Sexton said. “I would like to find a way to stand up as a district and get our surrounding superintendents to stand up with us and protect our little kids.”
Sexton has since apologized for her comments in a statement, saying her words went too far.
Norman Superintendent, Nick Migliorino has also released his own statement, saying although board members have a right to express their opinions, that does not mean those opinions “represent the opinion of the board as a whole or the official district position.”
Governor Stitt’s office has also responded with a statement, saying “It is inexcusable for an elected school board member to call children potential murderers because they cannot or choose not to wear a mask. No matter your politics – this divisive rhetoric is uncalled for.”
That meeting took place just hours after state Democrats introduced a bill that would repeal parts of SB658.
“I’ve had so many parents – I take calls every single day [saying] ‘What are my options because I feel like my student or my child will not be safe,’” said Melissa Provenzano, author of the bill.
Seven other Democratic representatives have joined her as co-authors.
Norman representative Jacob Rosecrants says even if the bill doesn’t pass, it will still help to put pressure on the governor.
“Every time someone reaches out to me about this bill, I’m like ‘Be sure to reach out to the governor to make sure that office understands,’” said Rosencrants.
Provenzano says she thinks a state of emergency is necessary at this point, and hopefully this bill will help pressure the governor to declare one.
“I think a state of emergency at a minimum,” Provenzano said. “[That’s] what needs to happen right now, and so however we arrive at that is a good thing.”