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A Western New York parent was dragged out of a school board meeting by security for not wearing a mask days after members of that school board and other local officials were photographed maskless at an official event.
Dave Calus, a parent attending a school board meeting in Webster, could be seen on video being grabbed by a security guard by his collar and pulled out of his chair as he sat quietly waiting his turn to speak at the meeting Tuesday.
Calus told Fox News the security guard asked him twice to put on a mask. Calus said he responded by thanking him for his opinion but declined.
“You need to wear a mask,” the officer said a third time in the video. Calus again declined, and says that’s when the guard “put his hands on me.”
Calus was then pulled from his chair, pushed up against a wall and escorted out of the meeting.
Calus says he walked into the meeting without a mask and had been sitting quietly for 15 to 20 minutes before he was confronted by the guard.
Days earlier, several Webster School District officials who were present at the meeting posed in pictures on social media at a school board function without wearing masks, drawing ire from local parents.
In a picture tweeted by New York State Assembly member Jen Lunsford, a Democrat representing District 135, Webster School District Superintendent Brian Neenan, Webster School Board member Jennifer Birdsong and Webster School Board member Janice Richardson are seen smiling for a camera without masks covering their faces.
The picture immediately drew criticism from social media users, according to PJ Media.Critics accused school officials of hypocrisy for enforcing mask mandates on children while posing without masks at meetings.
Lunsford defended her actions on Twitter, claiming they were appropriate because she only took the mask off for 30 seconds.
That explanation was not satisfactory for attorney Chad Hummel. Hummel is representing Calus in a police investigation into whether security acted inappropriately in removing Calus from the meeting.
“Even if that’s true, which it certainly is not, they were there for two or three hours,” Hummel said. “But, even if what she says is true, that it’s 30 seconds, why does she get to make that judgment call? Because she thinks she knows better than everyone else, right?”
Hummel explained that he would likely not be able to walk into a school board meeting and explain that his mask is only off for 30 seconds or some other arbitrary length of time.
“These people are such hypocrites,” Hummel said, adding that children are given “no option” and are “brainwashed to the max.”
Fox News reached out to the school and local officials who were photographed without masks and did not immediately receive a response.
The Webster County School District released a statement that appeared to place blame on Calus for not conducting himself in a “civil manner.”
“We strive to hold board of education meetings in public in order to inform the community of activities going on in our schools,” the statement said. “Those meetings can only occur when everyone in attendance acts in a civil manner. We understand that individuals have strong feelings about masking.
“We hear those concerns and are continuing to monitor the rapid changes in this ongoing pandemic. This week, the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents wrote a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul advocating for guidance and guidelines regarding an exit strategy for masking and other mitigation strategies.”
Hochul announced Wednesday, one day after Calus was yanked out of the school board meeting, that the state would be lifting its statewide indoor mask mandate with the exception of schools, child care centers, health care facilities, homeless shelters and corrections facilities.
When asked why high schools, where there are high rates of vaccination, are being treated differently from businesses, Hochul said students are in “a very concentrated setting” without much freedom of movement, and “adults can make their own decision.”
“There’s a group of us parents that have realized over the course of the last two years how much control we don’t have over our children as it relates to their education,” Calus told Fox News.
“It’s a scary thought that the state has more power and control over our kids than we do. If more people in my town, my district, my county and New York state don’t start to realize that and wake up to that fact, we’re headed down a really dangerous path.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report