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Manitowoc families divided on petition to recall two school board members over Covid policies

Posted at 6:19 AM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 07:19:10-05

MANITOWOC, Wis. (NBC 26) — For parents like Ryan Phipps, fighting to bring in two new school board members is about the choice.

"The problem is you can't just blanketly tell everybody what they can do or can't do with their healthcare decisions," he said.

A group of Manitowoc parents has just over 23 days to gather at least 4,004 hand-written signatures for a petition to recall school board members Dave Nickels and Meredith Sauer. But over the last month, members of the community have been divided on the issue.

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"I'm standing up for those parents and those people," Phipps said.

"The reasons behind the recall are just baseless," Natasha Khan, a Cleveland resident moving to Manitowoc, said.

Organizers started the recall effort in dissent of a district-wide mask mandate passed independently by the district's superintendent, among other reasons.

Manitowoc parents petition to recall two district school board members for Covid-19 protocols

"I'm not saying that you have to take your mask off, but what I'm saying is that we should have the freedom to choose for ourselves and for our children," Phipps said.

Nickels declined further comment on the petition against him, and Sauer did not attend Tuesday night's board meeting.

"I can't see why we can't go to a model where parents get to choose for themselves," Phipps said.

Manitowoc community members protest school district's mask mandate before heated board meeting

Locals like Khan oppose the recall efforts. She says it doesn't make sense.

"It's a waste of money," she said. "The next election is coming up. I think it's in a couple months. So it's just kind of like, why can't you wait until the election?"

The terms for Nickels and Sauer expire in April.

"Where they're getting their information from, they really need to vet it," Khan said about the petition organizers. "That's what it really comes down to."

If the recall is complete by Dec. 2, another election is set to take place six weeks after it's certified.

"If it doesn't work, I want maybe them to realize what they were trying to do wasn't really a great thing to do," Khan said.