'We will restore our parental rights.' Tensions rise at Bethpage school board meeting amid return of mask mandate
Angry parents showed up to a board meeting Tuesday at the Bethpage Union Free School District after an appellate court allowed the indoor mask mandate to stay in place.
Teresa Helfrich was one of dozens of people at the meeting speaking in opposition of the mask mandate.
"We will restore our parental rights," Helfrich says. "I will die on my hill first before I relinquish my rights to my kid. I don't think you understand the lengths some of us are willing to go to protect our children, but you're going to find out."
She says she was in court Monday when a state Supreme Court judge in Mineola struck down Gov. Kathy Hochul's mandate.
Helfrich says she now plans on running for the school board to enact the change she says she and other parents want to see.
Other people at the meeting asked Board President Michael Kelly, who is also president of the Nassau Suffolk School Boards Association, to withdraw the Bethpage School District from the New York State School Board Association.
Kelly was met with mostly anger when he spoke about the return of the mask mandate.
"We will be back masked, beginning tomorrow and we will continue to follow the legal division," Kelly says.
Most people at the meeting say they do not want their children to be forced by New York to wear masks, they want to be the ones to decide, and they plan to keep fighting in the courts for that to happen.
"We took it on the chin today, it was a little bit of a loss but we're confident that on Friday we will restore...I think justice will be served," Helfrich says. "We will get our ruling the way we want."
A couple of people in the meeting seemed to be in favor of the mandate, but the majority of those who attended were against it.