The chairwoman of a Minnesota school board was harshly criticized on social media after demanding that a man questioning the board at the board’s business meeting should give his home address publicly.
At the October 18 meeting of the Mankato school board, chairwoman Jodi Sapp informed the audience of the limits of what they could say or do:
Effective tonight, the school board will enforce the following guidelines: Open forum participants are prohibited from calling out or addressing any individual school board or school district staff member. If this occurs, open forum will be closed and the individual will not be allowed to participate in future open forums. Crowd noise or any sort of grandstanding during open forum, including applause, talking, hollering, or any outburst will result in open forum being closed.
Further, beginning at the November 1 school board meeting, open forum participation will be limited to those individuals who wish to speak to an item on the board agenda. The board’s agenda is always made available the Thursday prior to our meetings and they are always on the district website.
Before Mankato resident John Wicklund spoke, Sapp stated, “I just want to remind everyone that this is a business meeting of the school board; it is not a meeting that belongs to the public. … Each speaker is asked to state his or her name and address for the record. Failure to do so will result in an individual not being allowed to speak. John, can you give us your name and address, please?”
Wicklund answered, “My name is John Wicklund. I live in Mankato.”
Sapp asked, “Can I get your address, please, John?”
“I’d rather not, since you guys have it already —” Wicklund began.
Sapp told Wicklund to give his address or he would not be allowed to speak.
“ — and I get so much property damage and eggs and everything else from fun people and their friends,” he continued.
Sapp demanded, “John, you need to give your address or you can’t speak.”
“I live on 5th Street,” Wicklund reluctantly answered.
“Excuse me?” Sapp asked.
“I live on 5th Street,” Wicklund reiterated.
Sapp, determined to get Wicklund’s precise home address, pressed, “House number?”
Wicklund then turned away from the microphone and gave his address.
After turning back to the microphone, he began his address to the board: “So, are our kids safe?”
According to the Daily Mail, Wicklund asked, “How many acts of violence? … How many sexual assaults have happened in this school district?”
“The open forum’s policy change came after the school board’s October 4 meeting, where a number of parents criticized the school district mask’s mandate and vaccination policies, causing audience members to loudly applaud the community speakers,” the Daily Mail noted.
The website for the Mankato School Board lists its members but not their home addresses.
Some reactions on social media included, “Release her address and phone number too.” “Each parent should read the address of a school board member before they start speaking.” “Keep in mind, this board member is elected to serve the person she’s lecturing.” “I’m so sick of these people with positions like this acting like this.”