CDA trustees resign amidst masking uproar

Two Coeur d’Alene school trustees have resigned, amidst a bitter community debate over masking in schools.

The resignations of board chair Jennifer Brumley and trustee Tambra Pickford go into effect immediately.

“Although my term will end this December, I have decided to leave the board early to focus on professional and family priorities,” said Brumley, elected in 2018 and appointed board chair in January.

“I no longer am able to devote the considerable amount of time that this position requires,” said Pickford, a trustee since 2015.

The shakeup is the latest development in a turbulent three weeks for the Coeur d’Alene district.

  • On Sept. 13, trustees voted 3-2 to strongly recommend masks in school, but not require masking. Brumley and Pickford were among the three trustees who supported the optional mask policy. This board vote came less than a week after overwhelmed North Idaho hospitals got the go-ahead to move to crisis standards of care — a health care rationing regime.
  • On Sept. 24, trustees were poised to meet, and perhaps revisit the mask policy. But the meeting never happened. An angry crowd of about 200 anti-mask protesters swarmed district headquarters, forcing trustees to abruptly cancel the meeting.
  • On Tuesday, Brumley said she wanted the board to set the issue aside. “As board chair I am not requesting to reschedule the special meeting to discuss masks and quarantine,” Brumley said in an email to parents. “The board does not want to see any disruption in the educational environment of our students.”

For the time being, that decision will fall to the remaining three trustees.

Under state law, trustees will have 90 days to appoint a successor to serve out the remainder of Pickford’s term, which runs through December 2023.

In November, voters will select a successor for Brumley, who did not file to seek re-election. The winner of the race — either Lesli Bjerke or Lindsey Swingrover — will take office in January.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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