School board member says business was targeted after opposing mask mandate

Emmy Harvey resigned from the school board after her business was being targeted by "passionate community members" who disagreed with the board’s decision to make masks optional.

Former school board member Emmy Harvey, pictured left, resigned after facing harassment from community members. (Photos courtesy of Byron Public Schools)

A small town in southern Minnesota lost two of its recently elected school board members due to turmoil in the community over mask mandates.

Emmy Harvey and Mike Denney had been serving on the Byron Public Schools board since November of last year. Now, they have both stepped down following the school board’s decision to recommend, but not mandate, masks in school.

Harvey, who voted for masks to be optional, said her business was being targeted by “passionate community members” who disagreed with the board’s decision.

She worried her children would be targeted next.

“While this is a very trying time for all of us, some went to such lengths to harass myself and board members. They then decided to come after my business as a realtor. My next fear was that my kids would be targeted,” Harvey said in a statement, according to KTTC.

On the other hand, Denney resigned after having to support agreements he was “strongly against,” he said.

Finding himself on the opposing side of most issues, Denney said it was the mask mandate issue that “really hit home,” KTTC reported.

“Very strong disagreement with having masks optional. I wanted the mandate to stop something before it happened. I wanted to be proactive,” he said.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Nuebeck said the resignations were a surprise, coming only one week before the start of school. He also said the mask recommendation could change and will revolve around the city’s COVID-19 situation.

In order to fill the two empty spots, board members will be able to nominate community members at the upcoming Sept. 7 meeting, KTTC said.

Several school boards have voted in favor of mandating masks for students and staff, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Edina, Fridley, Brooklyn Center, and many others.

Parents, students, and community members across the state have spoken to their school boards about the negative effects masks pose for children. Among those speaking out against mandates have been a trauma nurse, a mental health nurse practitioner, and a school nurse.