A concerned grandmother and two other parents from a New York school district were arrested and charged with trespassing and banned from attending a school board meeting on October 26, days after a school principal who allegedly molested dozens of schoolboys was released from jail by posting bail.
Former Northwood Elementary School Principal Kirk Ashton from the Hilton Central School District is still being paid by the district despite being hit with dozens of charges related to child sex crimes. Superintendent Casey Kosiorek sent an email to parents last month saying there would be “additional security present outside Northwood” on the day of Ashton’s release.
Parents with concerns ranging from Ashton, their children’s curriculum, COVID-19 restrictions, and recent disciplinary actions from the district showed up to the Hilton Central School District school board meeting to have their voices heard and their questions answered.
Instead, they were denied in-person access to the meeting, kicked out to a school parking lot where they were met with sheriff’s deputies, allegedly smeared as “insurrectionists” by security — an accusation the district has called “erroneous” — and three of them were arrested and charged with trespassing, one of whom was followed home and ticketed by deputies after they agreed to let her go home to take medicine.
The school board meeting was held behind closed doors that evening. No parents were allowed to attend in-person.
The school district has said that one of the parents was arrested for refusing to wear a mask, and the other two were arrested for refusing to leave the school when asked, WHEC 10 News reported. The meeting was allegedly “suspended” by School Board President Brian O’Connor and Superintendent Casey Kosiorek after “a group” of parents were being “disruptive,” the report said.
When asked why the meeting was blocked to other parents who were reportedly following their guidelines, Hilton Central School District’s Communications Director Grace Scism said via email, “The Board of Education looks forward to hearing public comments at future meetings. We request that all community members follow Board of Education and New York State protocols. The meetings are conducted using Robert’s Rules of Order.”
One of the two adults who was arrested for allegedly refusing to leave the school, Dawn Fox, a 53-year-old grandmother to a student at the Hilton Central, told The Daily Wire she peacefully left the auditorium, as did the other woman, when asked. They were then, however, charged with trespassing for being outside in a parking lot, along with others, video posted on Facebook shows. It’s unclear why the two women were singled out by security for the arrests, aside from perhaps being the two most vocal.
Fox told The Daily Wire that deputies followed her to her home and then ticketed her for trespassing at the school.
“You want me arrested for asking you questions?” Fox recalled the incident to The Daily Wire. She said security directed law enforcement to have her arrested, and authorities complied, telling her it was out of their hands; a so-called “turnover arrest,” video shows.
“Unfortunately, if somebody is a representative of a private property … open to the public … wants you arrested, [we have to comply],” a sheriff’s deputy told one of the arrested women, video shows. “This is not us as the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arresting you, it’s the Hilton Central School District saying that they want you arrested, and we have to facilitate that arrest. It’s a turnover arrest.”
Fox said she was bewildered by the call for her arrest and became “very upset” and “panicked.” As she felt her heart beating faster, she says, she told the deputies she wanted to go home to take her medicine. They agreed she could do so and followed her home. When she got out of her vehicle at her own home, she was ticketed with trespassing at the school.
Fox said she was not put in handcuffs during her arrest, though Hilton mom Shanierae Iorio, 42, was cuffed when she was hit with the trespassing charge.
“We were in the auditorium and then the incident happened with Jim [Burroughs], and he left,” Fox said of the start of the evening. Burroughs was charged with trespassing for refusing to wear a mask while the parents gathered in the auditorium, awaiting school board members.
“We didn’t even know at that point that he had been arrested,” she explained. “The board never came out. So, parents were just talking … a couple of students and a couple parents.”
“All of a sudden, a security guard disrupted what we’re doing and told us we have to leave, so we all got up and we left. He said if you don’t leave you’re gonna be arrested,” the grandmother said, adding that she heard parents were told they could “assemble outside.”
Fox expressed to The Daily Wire that the mask incident with Burroughs seemed disconnected from the parents being kicked out of the auditorium, since the incident happened approximately 20-30 minutes beforehand, she estimated.
“We were told that someone reported to them (the school board) that we were unruly and that we were insurrectionists,” Fox said. “And that was not the truth at all.”
After parents obeyed the directive to leave the auditorium, some started to realize the school board was going ahead with the meeting without them. According to Fox, a nurse came out of the school and confirmed as much.
While parents were assembled outside, video shows security direct authorities to arrest Fox. The grandmother told The Daily Wire that it’s unclear why she was singled out when there were other parents outside, too, but said it was likely because she was vocal and said she would not leave.
After it was made clear Fox was going to be arrested, Iorio said she should be arrested, too, since she was allegedly perpetrating the same “violation” Fox was. Video shows deputies arrested her, too, telling Iorio they were merely complying with a request from security.
In a statement provided to The Daily Wire, Fox’s lawyer Daniel E. Strollo accused the district of “weaponizing arbitrary mask policies to silence parents and community members who are rightfully speaking out against arbitrary and oppressive policies.”
“Ms. Fox had an absolute and unequivocal right to attend that meeting under New York’s Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law Article 7) and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” Strollo said. “The Hilton School District violated Ms. Fox’s rights by kicking her out of that meeting.”
Strollo added that “school officials must understand that they are not kings, and boardrooms are not their castle.”
“As far as Ms. Scism’s comments are concerned, the School District ought to be reminded that the Open Meetings Law is not merely a suggestion that they are free to disregard at their whim.”
Before Oct. 26, Fox told The Daily Wire she had never attended a school board meeting, but decided to go out of concerns stemming from Ashton — who’s still being paid by the district — COVID-19 restrictions, and general curriculum.
What happened with Ashton is a “big concern” to her, she said. “We wanted to know what was going on … What is actually going on [with curriculum]? … We don’t like the whole masking and we’re concerned the vaccine will become mandated for students, soon.”
“I’m disappointed that they couldn’t even face us,” Fox said of the school board. “They didn’t even come out and talk to us, at all.”
Adding to Fox’s account, a parent who has children in the district and wished to remain anonymous told The Daily Wire that the parent was told by “numerous people” that head of security Dave Inzana was the one to tell school board members not to hold the meeting with the parents because they were staging an “insurrection.”
“He (Inzana) told the school board there was an insurrection going on and not to come out,” the parent said. “Then [he] told the parents the board refused to come out because parents weren’t wearing masks.”
Fox told The Daily Wire she heard rumors that parents were deemed “insurrectionists.” She emphasized that she did not witness the account firsthand and was unable to pinpoint who allegedly called the parents “insurrectionists.”
“The statement regarding our Head of Security is erroneous as he did not state that parents were inciting an insurrection,” Scism told The Daily Wire via email on Monday about the allegations concerning Inzana.
Strollo commented on Inzana, too, suggesting the head of security perjured himself, seemingly to cover for the district barring parents from the meeting.
The district “compounded their wrongful conduct,” he said. “The Hilton School District then lied to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which resulted in Ms. Fox’s arrest for Trespassing.”
“Mr. David Inzana signed a document — under penalty of perjury — alleging that at 8:05 P.M., Ms. Fox trespassed at the school ‘due to the fact that the board of education meeting had ended and she no longer had legitimate business being on the property,'” Strollo explained. “A video of the board meeting shows that this is completely false.” (The Complaint can be read here.)
“The Hilton School District’s own video shows board meeting was very much still going on at 8:05 P.M. There is a clock visible in that video that shows that the meeting was going on before 8:00 P.M. and continuing until almost 8:30 P.M.”
Strollo provided to The Daily Wire a screenshot of the clock near the start of the school board meeting and one toward the end of it:
“I anticipate that the baseless criminal charges against Ms. Fox will be dismissed, and I can assure you that we are exploring all options to hold the Hilton School District accountable for its wrongful conduct,” Strollo warned.
The Daily Wire reached out to the office of Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter last week to ask why the parents were arrested and charged with trespassing, and specifically why a grandmother was followed home and charged with trespassing. Notably, mother Shannon Joy was arrested at a neighboring Fairport Central School District school board meeting and charged with “trespassing” for improperly wearing her mask. The charge was quickly dismissed.
The sheriff’s office directed us to Hilton Central’s communication director and sent the following response:
On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, at the request of the Hilton Central School District, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Hilton Central School Board Meeting being held at 225 West Ave., Hilton. Three individuals were asked repeatedly by school staff to leave the property and refused. MCSO issued appearance tickets to three individuals for Trespass (a violation):
James Burroughs, 45, Hilton
Shanierae Iorio, 42, Hilton
Dawn Fox, 53, Hilton
Below is Strollo’s statement in its entirety:
On October 26, 2021, Dawn Fox sought to attend a Board of Education meeting at the Hilton Central School District. Ms. Fox had an absolute and unequivocal right to attend that meeting under New York’s Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law Article 7) and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Hilton School District violated Ms. Fox’s rights by kicking her out of that meeting.
They then compounded their wrongful conduct. The Hilton School District then lied to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, which resulted in Ms. Fox’s arrest for Trespassing.
Mr. David Inzana signed a document — under penalty of perjury — alleging that at 8:05 P.M., Ms. Fox trespassed at the school “due to the fact that the board of education meeting had ended and she no longer had legitimate business being on the property.”
A video of the board meeting shows that this is completely false. The Hilton School District’s own video shows board meeting was very much still going on at 8:05 P.M. There is a clock visible in that video that shows that the meeting was going on before 8:00 P.M. and continuing until almost 8:30 P.M.
This is yet another example of school district officials weaponizing arbitrary mask policies to silence parents and community members who are rightfully speaking out against arbitrary and oppressive policies.
I anticipate that the baseless criminal charges against Ms. Fox will be dismissed, and I can assure you that we are exploring all options to hold the Hilton School District accountable for its wrongful conduct.
School officials must understand that they are not kings, and boardrooms are not their castle. As far as Ms. Scism’s comments are concerned, the School District ought to be reminded that the Open Meetings Law is not merely a suggestion that they are free to disregard at their whim.
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