The board of education meeting in Hillsborough was ended after 16 minutes over a mask dispute with some members of the public.

Gov. Phil Murphy's school mask mandate is not scheduled to be lifted until March 7, and when BOW president Paul Marini saw people in the audience did not have masks on, he reminded them the governor's mandate was still in place.

Marini refused to begin the meeting, and reminded attendees two more times they needed to mask-up.

Things started to get heated as attendees and BOE members went back and forth about the rules and constitutional rights before the meeting was ended over concerns about the meeting “getting out of hand.”

There was no police presence at the meeting, so Marini said he had no choice but to send everyone home.

You can watch the BOE meeting here. 

Discussion of mask rules and how the district plans to address the situation going forward was not listed on the board agenda, but a large contingent of parents appeared ready to talk about it anyway during the public comment period of the meeting.

They never got the chance.

In a letter to parents, sent after the meeting was canceled, acting superintendent Kim Feltre said she was was "saddened by the continued divisiveness that prevails."

However, Feltre also indicated it is the intention to make masks optional for students and staff when the statewide mask mandate ends in three weeks.

A special meeting of the board of education will now be held Thursday, March 17, at 7:30 to address the issues that had been scheduled for last Monday's meeting.

Thursday's meeting will be held remote. Details of how to access the meeting, and participate in the public comment session, can be found here.

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