Some of Iowa’s anti-mask mandate parents have a new strategy to get what they want: threatening to defund public education by temporarily pulling their children out of school.
Jeff Fahrmann of Ankeny started a petition that opposed the Ankeny School District implementing any sort of mask mandate following Monday’s ruling by a federal judge that suspended Iowa’s previous mask mandate ban.
As part of the strategy, Farhmann and anyone who signed the petition have implied they are willing to unenroll their children from the district on or before Oct.1, which is the day Iowa public schools conduct a census to determine certified enrollment. Certified enrollment is an annual report of enrolled resident students used for the Iowa School Finance Formula calculation.
The strategy was mentioned again during a protest outside of Tuesday’s special Ankeny School Board meeting by Kimberly Reicks, an Ankeny mother who, alongside Emily Peterson of Ankeny, are known as the Iowa Mama Bears in far-right circles.
“Nobody here should comply and we should take our kids and we should pull them out of school if they mandate masks on them again,” Reicks said. “We will take their funding because my kid and your kids is not their paycheck; my kid is not for sale. My child is mine.”
Reicks and Petersen took credit for getting Iowa’s mask mandate ban in place and attended the May 20 signing of the bill in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office.
The Ankeny School Board delayed taking any action at Tuesday’s special meeting, saying it needed to seek additional information.
A similar defunding tactic is playing out in the Waukee School District. A social media post circulating tells parents to call district officials and tell them they don’t want a mask mandate and that they will unenroll their children for two weeks to miss the certified enrollment date.
“MAKE WCSD PAY!” read the post in the Let The Parents Decide – Waukee Facebook group. “…If the school board passes a mask mandate tonight, unenroll your childrenn for 2 weeks beginning tomorrow morning … Spend the next 2 weeks having a fun fall break with your children, homeschool lessons and community homeschool co-op learning with others parents … After October 1 we will reenroll our students.”
The Waukee School Board, however, voted four to two on Thursday to not implement a mask mandate for all students. The board previously discussed a mask requirement for students who are too young to get vaccinated, but the measure ended in a stalemate.
by Ty Rushing