LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio — U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel was asked to leave the Lakota school board meeting on Monday night after he attempted to speak to the board to “defend the moms and dads” regarding the district's mask mandate.
In August, Lakota Local Schools – Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school system – changed its stance on masks, requiring its 16,800 students to wear them while in class.
Mandel, the state’s former treasurer and currently running for the Ohio Republican nomination in the Senate race, told the Lakota school board members they “are using kids as pawns in a political game.”
“Here in the Lakota District and throughout the state of Ohio, children should not be forced to wear masks,” Mandel said. “On top of that, children should not be forced to learn about to pick a gender or not pick a gender. Boys are boys, girls are girls.”
In a video posted by Mandel’s campaign Twitter account, two Butler County Sheriff’s deputies approached him as he was talking. He appeared to be responding to an inaudible statement by the school board.
I just got escorted out of the Lakota School Board meeting for speaking out against mask mandates.— Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio) October 12, 2021
Thanks to the moms who invited me to speak.
We are still in charge of our kids — even if Biden tries to call us “Domestic Terrorists”. pic.twitter.com/XXGisR89Hp
Why are school boards afraid of parents standing up for kids?— Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio) October 12, 2021
Thanks to this courageous mom for recording Lakota School Board’s crack down on my free speech at a public meeting.
This isn’t over. pic.twitter.com/iXF61T7j47
“Isn’t this a public meeting?” Mandel asked.
After a few moments of questioning whether he was allowed to speak at a public meeting, he continued. Then the two deputies appeared to ask him to leave.
A woman who said she was a resident of the Lakota School District said she designated Mandel to speak on her behalf. An unidentified person speaking from the school board dais said she had “yielded” her time, and did not formally specify Mandel would speak on her behalf.
The Lakota School Board’s public comment policy indicates “public participants must be residents of the district or Lakota staff, and have a legitimate interest in the action of the board.”
Mandel is one of several people seeking to succeed U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who decided not to seek re-election in 2022. Mandel is one of 11 declared candidates seeking the open U.S. Senate seat, including Middletown native and author J.D. Vance, former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken and Cleveland car dealership owner Bernie Moreno.