UNION COUNTY — Prior to the local Board of Education meeting on Tuesday (June 1), two competing rallies were outside the Union County Public Schools Professional Development building on Brewer Street in front of Central Academy of Technology and Arts (CATA), where the meeting was held.

On one side of the lawn outside the front doors, families and people interested in what is being taught in schools were advocating for parental rights. They believe parents should have the right to choose to send their student(s) to school wearing masks and to have them vaccinated. In addition, they oppose the implementation of Critical Race Theory curriculum for social studies classes.

The other side promoted wearing masks and encouraged the use of Critical Race Theory.

Some rally participants from either side spoke at the meeting. The BOE decided to add time to the public comment portion of the meeting thus allowing speakers on a waiting list to share their thoughts alongside those who previously signed up to speak.

One and a half hours of public commentary ensued. Following, the Board took a five minute break before continuing with the rest of the meeting.

They voted on a motion to make wearing a mask optional for students depending on the expiration of a session law from the General Assembly requiring school districts to follow COVID-19 guidelines provided by the state. The Board voted 4-4, which meant the motion failed.

Dr. Andrew Houlihan, Superintendent of Union County Public Schools, toward the end of the meeting gave comments about the previous school year; he thanked all school district employees for a “successful” year.