Hamilton County School Board meets with protestors despite specific agenda

A special called meeting for the Hamilton County School Board Thursday night was met with protestors even though members were there to discuss the search for a superintendent. This comes one day after a mask policy was announced and after the first day of school.

Community members surrounded the school board meeting room before the special called meeting. No one seems to be happy with the current mask guidance. Some want a mask mandate.

MORE |UPDATE: Hamilton Co. Schools release reopening plan with more guidance on mask requirements & opt-out option 

"It is completely confusing to me why anyone on earth wouldn't do anything on earth to keep children safe," Hamilton County Schools Parent Jenn Piroth said.

"I know that I'm protecting them and keeping them safe and myself," Hamilton County School Sixth Grader Ellis Piroth said.

Others don't want to have to fill out a form to opt-out.

"People that want to wear masks and want to get vaccinated, do that, but other people who don't want to, don't demonize them," Hamilton County Schools Parent Mike White said.

MORE |WATCH: Hamilton County School Board holds special meeting to address superintendent search 

That was all before the meeting started, then the board got down to business. The board voted and finalized the contract for interim superintendent Dr. Nakia Towns. Then they discussed how they want to go about finding the permanent superintendent. Several board members want to do an internal search.

"I just think having someone you know, someone you can talk to, somebody that you can sit down with and see what they can do, we only get that with the local candidates, you can't get that with someone from outside," Hamilton County School Board District 1 Representative Rhonda Thurman said.

"Every principal that we have may not want to be a superintendent, but I like the idea that they get the opportunity to become that CEO of the company so to speak," Hamilton County School Board District 9 Representative James Walker said.

Others want to do a national search.

"We may have the most fantastic candidate ever in our system, but to me why we need to interview candidates outside our system is to know that we've got the best," Hamilton County School Board District 6 Representative Jenny Hill said.

The board voted to review and update a previous Request For Proposal for a professional search firm to partner with the board to find the right candidate. One will be to vet internal candidates. The other will be to conduct a national search.

The updated proposal will be presented to the board on Monday during a special called meeting.

The meeting ended, but the parents didn't leave. They expressed their frustration about the new mask guidance to four board members who stuck around.

"Learning is not happening when everybody's face is covered in a mask and there's plastic shields everywhere," Hamilton County Schools Parent said.

"We don't get to establish the standard of care and the reality is there are limitations in the state of Tennessee to be able to do that," Hamilton County School Board Chairman Joe Wingate said.

The Hamilton County Schools policy is not a mask mandate for students. Parents can opt out by filling out a form on the PowerSchools portal.