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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 4, 2021

No, parents didn’t oust a school board in Vail, Arizona

If Your Time is short

  • The school board in Vail, Ariz., was not ousted. 
  • Parents protesting the school district’s mask mandate “elected” new board members but the election wasn’t real — it took place in a hallway by voice vote and ignored the law. 

Tim Swain, a man from South Carolina running for a seat in the U.S. Senate, recently shared some news about a different governing body in a different state. 

"WOW," Swain tweeted on April 27. "Parents in Vail, Arizona just took over the school board - all according to the rules. Voted in a whole new board, and immediately removed the mask mandate. Democracy in action! Just amazing!" 

A screenshot of that tweet is now spreading on Facebook. One post shares the link to an AM radio station’s story with a headline that says "Vail school board flees, parents elect new board, vote to end mask mandate." But that’s wrong.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We reached out to Swain about the tweet but did not hear back. But he also shared a link to the story on the radio station’s website. 

"Hundreds of parents showed up to the Vail School Board meeting to demand that the board make masks optional," the story says. "The board didn’t want to hear it so they walked out of the meeting before it even began. So the parents, under Robert’s Rules of Order, voted in a new school board. Then, the new members voted to end the mask requirement in Vail schools." 

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More than 100 parents did show up before a school board meeting in Vail, Ariz., on April 27 to call on board members to end a rule requiring students to wear face masks. "Owing to the commotion," Newsweek reported, board members decided not to hold their meeting as planned, and the protesters nominated five people from their own ranks to form a new governing body. The group then decided themselves that the mask mandate should be optional.

But this wasn’t an official election. It took place in a hallway, defied laws dictating how a school board member can be elected or recalled, and changed nothing about the board’s makeup or the district’s mask mandate. 

"It was a media stunt," said Chris King, one of the district’s five board members. "It was essentially the same as electing who’s going to be the banker in a game of Monopoly. That’s the same authority." 

Several board members and Darcy Mentone, a spokesperson for the district, told us that no one from the board was removed or resigned. Recalling a board member requires a petitioner who lives in the school district to collect signatures from at least 25% of voters in that area, or approximately 5,000 people, Mentone said. If the petition is filed on time, the recall is put on a ballot. 

There is likewise a formal process to run for the school board. 

On April 30, the district did decide to allow students to take off their masks outside when they’re at school, but this decision was made by the superintendent, Mentone said, not the board. 

We rate this post False.


Our Sources

Facebook post, April 28, 2021

Tim Swain tweet, April 27, 2021

KNST AM 790, Vail school board flees, parents elect new board, vote to end mask mandate, April 27, 2021

Newsweek, Arizona parents attempt school board coup to revoke child mask mandate, April 30, 2021

Email interview with Claudia Anderson, Vail School District board member, May 3, 2021

Email interview with Allison Pratt, Vail School District board member, May 3, 2021

Interview with Chris King, Vail School District board member, May 3, 2021

Interview with Darcy Mentone, Vail School District director of communications and public affairs, May 3, 2021


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No, parents didn’t oust a school board in Vail, Arizona

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