Superintendent of NEK school with mask requirement shuts down opponent

October 23 photo from Newark school Facebook page

by Guy Page

Longtime Vermont mandatory mask opponent Amy Hornblas has been rebuked by a Northeast Kingdom school superintendent for seeking to overturn the required masking policy in the elementary school in the tiny town of Newark.

Vermont school districts have authority to implement, or not implement, mask mandates. Most dropped them earlier this year.

“Last March, the Vermont Agency of Education urged schools to drop their mask mandates,” Hornblas – a Washington County resident – wrote in a letter to the Kingdom East Supervisory District, which includes Newark. “Governor Scott told reporters that mental health concerns contributed to the decision to stop recommending face masks. “The ongoing strain on our kids’ mental health is far outweighing the risk from Covid amongst this age group.” In September I learned that Newark School was once again imposing mask mandates on staff and students.”

When the Vermont Daily Chronicle called the school to confirm details of the mandatory masking policy, a spokesperson said “I’m not going to talk about any of that” and instructed me to contact the superintendent’s office. A voicemail was left, so as of 12:30 PM no answer has been received. The school’s Facebook page shows some students masked, some not.

A letter to the editor from Hornblas and an email to her from Supt. Jennifer Botzojorns appear below.

Dear Editor,

A year and a half after the lifting of mask mandates in most public places, many people believe the masks are “finally going away.”  However, for an unknown number of students and staff across the U.S., this is not the case.  The U.S. Department of Education is encouraging schools to use civil rights disability laws to require masks for specific students and staff.  At least one school in Vermont has been using this law to mask several classrooms and settings since September.

Please find attached a letter I sent this week to the KESD school board concerning their decision to continue masking students at Newark School, and their response to the FOIA I gave them in September.  It outlines how the laws are being used to force masks on the very people most likely to be harmed by them.  

Below is the response I received from the superintendent. 

Please feel free to forward my letter to anyone who can use it.  As you can see, we need to break the silence around this issue and help those families and staff who are suffering alone across the country.

Amy Hornblas

———- Forwarded message ———

From: Jennifer Botzojorns
Date: Mon, Dec 19, 2022 at 2:45 PM
Subject: recent letter

Dear Ms. Hornblas,

Thank you for copying me on the correspondence to the Kingdom East School Board.  

I make the Kingdom East operational decisions regarding the topics you discuss. You do not live in our District, nor do your children attend our schools. We have a process whereby if individuals directly impacted want to provide feedback they speak to the teacher or adult involved, then the principal, superintendent and Board (in that order).

I have asked our Board to not hear any more public comment (written or spoken) from you; you are not included in their governance oversight. Additionally, if individuals in this District are directly impacted by a topic, our Board refers them to the procedural and operational chain of command described above.

I wish you a happy holiday, 



Dr. Jennifer Botzojorns, Superintendent of SchoolsKingdom East- Burke~Concord~Lunenburg/Gilman~Lyndon~Miller’sRun~ Newark~Sutton

Categories: Education

28 replies »

  1. Evidently, cultural Marxists such as Jennifer Botzojorns don’t appreciate comments from citizens that challenge their rule. Especially, for rules that suppress the liberties of others. Good for Amy Hornblas in providing transparency to these ridiculous mask mandates still perpetuated on the citizens of Vermont. The parents of those children, in that district, really need to rally and stand up to this Superintendent (who works for them).

  2. In reading the Superintendent’s letter to Amy Hornblas an old phrase comes to mind: “Arrogance and ignorance are a dangerous combination.” One would hope that any public official would respond to the specific and well-documented concerns for the health and safety of school children as outlined in Amy Hornblas’s letter of December 18. Why would it matter where the letter writer lived? Of course, if I’m not mistaken, given the way schools are funded, all Vermont taxpayers contribute to the support of all public schools; this support includes paying the hefty salaries of the superintendents. Anyway, perhaps Superintendent Botzojorns will deign to respond to the representative of the free press, Mr. Page. We’ll wait and see.

  3. Apparently under this policy any concern raised by someone outside the school district would be ignored. Would that include include an incident of sexual harassment, child abuse, malfeasance, or racism? Don’t superintendents receive advice and direction from any number of outside sources on a regular basis? This tyrannical behavior is a threat to our children and our schools.

  4. The state of Vermont has an open meeting law, which applies to all state and municipal public bodies, which includes school boards. It “requires all meetings of public bodies to be open to the public at all times, unless a specific exception applies”. Here is a link to the Secretary of State’s guide to open meetings.

    The school board can make rules about the content in that it must relate to school district policies; they can prevent citizens from commenting on US foreign policy, for example. But they should be content neutral; they cannot prevent a citizen from criticizing a policy or employee.

    Thank you to Amy Hornblas for looking out for our kids!

  5. Good luck folks. That district’s hands are tied because of the disabilities act. Even if they wanted to say” no more masks for the betterment of the majority,” the needs of one child over rule it.
    Very sad for the kids in that class and school as a whole.

    • What does the disabilities act have to do with the fact that masks don’t mitigate the spread of airborne diseases, and demonstrably are harmful in several ways?

  6. The snobbery is astounding. Does the Superintendent have children in the schools? If the kids were being poisoned by lead paint, would voices only be qualified to have opinions if they had enrolled minors. Classic bureaucracy! No response to the merits. Disnonnected incompetence. Let a parent merely raise the same issues — then the bureaucrat might take a different evasion….

  7. This is from the Secretary of State’s page about open meeting laws in Vermont:

    “Vermont’s open meeting law requires all meetings of public bodies to be open to the public at all
    times, unless a specific exception applies. 1 V.S.A. § 312(a)(1). The purpose of the law is to
    promote transparency, accountability, and better decision-making in government”

  8. I think Tom Kelly is right, any Vermont resident can go to any open meeting in Vermont. I imagine that “providing feedback” is part of our right to attend these meetings. Also from the Vermont Secretary of State’s “guide to open meetings”:

    The open meeting law applies to “public bodies” of the state and its municipalities. “Public body” includes any state or municipal board, council, or commission, as well as any committee or subcommittee of these bodies. 1 V.S.A. § 310(4). This means the open meeting law governs the meetings of local selectboards and school boards, planning commissions and development review boards, boards of civil authority and of abatement, auditors and listers, municipal public library trustees, cemetery and recreation commissions, and various other groups referenced in state statute or by a town’s charter. It also applies to the meetings of any committee or subcommittee that is created or empowered by a public body to do its work, no matter its size.

    Thank you to Amy Hornblas for speaking up for these kids and families.

  9. If these elementary children had true school choice, where the tax dollars follow the child , the masks would come off pronto!

  10. Now that ACT60 forces our property tax dollars to be shared with everyone… Jennifer is blatantly WRONG. She is responsible to ANYONE who has a financial liability to her salary.

    • Thank you for pointing that out that education funding and hence education policy is a statewide concern ever since Act 60/ Act68. The democrats want it both ways…they want to share the funds in the name of “equity” but they still want autocratic local control…with the emphasis on the word CONTROL.

  11. I am baffled as to why would a superintendent of schools – someone directly invested in the education, health and welfare of children – not be interested in at minimum reading the information provided by Ms Hornblas from credentialed studies and from the CDC itself. Does that mean she just doesn’t have the time to consider what is being shown as a school policy that creates an unsafe environment for kids? I for one would love to see the risk/benefit analysis regarding kids wearing masks, especially when the governor himself said he believes the risks outweigh the benefits.

    • Dear Anonymous,

      Exactly. That is all I’ve been asking our officials for from the beginning of this: to conduct a Cost/Benefit analysis.

      Despite writing open letters to them, submitting FOIA’s, and showing up at local school boards, the Agency of Education, and the legislature, I still have yet to receive any evidence that an analysis has been conducted. We can’t even get it on the agenda as an item to discuss.

      The reason is simple: There is only overwhelming evidence that masks are harmful.

      Without healthy respiration, our bodies begin to age, diseases develop more rapidly, brain damage and permanent damage to other organs occurs, etc…

      This is urgent- people are being harmed every day at work, at school, and just in order to access basic services such as medical care and transportation. Now, these mask mandates are targeting the most vulnerable specifically, using the very laws intended to protect them.

      People can let school boards and other officials know that they are accountable for their decisions, and we expect them to drop all mask mandates immediately.

      Thank you.
      Amy Hornblas

  12. An arrogant and condescending superintendent of schools? Gosh, really? Such an anomaly. Why, I have found Vermont superintendents truly, among the most compassionate and people-supportive folks out there, Principals too. Their professional culture is so beautifully focused on equity. And the way they sacrifice themselves for the good of the children…..many willing to accept just salaries of $100K +++. Incredible dedication and sacrifice. I mean, we Vermonters are to be humbled and thankful to be graced by such leadership!!!

  13. Isn’t it great that the past 3 years have exposed the true nature of people? Sadly most are power tripping mental midgets.

  14. Apologies for my excessive postings (I couldn’t see them showing up so I kept posting!) It’s not clear whether Amy ever went in person to a school board meeting to comment publicly but interesting that Jennifer banned her pre-emptively from doing that. Or maybe not banned, but “I have asked our Board to not hear any more public comment (written or spoken) from you” sounds like the same thing.

  15. If taxpayers refuse to pay the salaries of these demonic spirits, perhaps control will be back in the taxpayer/parents hands. Stop approving budgets and withhold all support. A community that cannot rise up to protect children is a failed community.

  16. I believe the issue we’re seeing is superintendents thinking they have control over everything we need folks to start by electing folks to school boards who have values and immediately constitute directives that limit what superintendents can do with out board approval. After all the only ones that answer to parents is elected school board officials

  17. Two aspects of this superintendent’s position are very troubling:

    1)“Governor Scott told reporters that mental health concerns contributed to the decision to stop recommending face masks. The ongoing strain on our kids’ mental health is far outweighing the risk from Covid amongst this age group.”
    I respect the Governor’s statement which is based on advice he receives from a broad base of professionals who have finally come to their senses in the matter and looked at the big picture. The authoritarian marxist superintendent in charge apparently is not concerned about the mental wellbeing of the youngsters she is entrusted with caring for.

    2)”You do not live in our District, nor do your children attend our schools.”
    The governor doesn’t live in or send his kids to that school district either but he is allowed to weigh in because he is a concerned citizen, enjoys Constitutionally guaranteed rights of free expression AND he is the lawfully elected Governor. What gives these autocratic education professionals their big power trip?…knowing that there is a majority in the legislature that have their backs and are also mentally impaired marxist authoritarians, that’s what.

    And now our totalitarian legislature is poised to structure babysitting (what they refer to as “early childhood education”) with the same level of authority and poor decision making. We voted for this nonsense.

  18. Dear Friends,

    Thank you for your interest in protecting students. This is a critical issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

    The real story here is that the schools have no evidence masks are safe. When I heard that Newark School was imposing masks again, I submitted a FOIA to the Kingdom East Supervisory District requesting evidence of safety, and received none.

    In reply to my FOIA request, the superintendent mailed me a letter the U.S. Department of Education sent to schools last March. The letter instructs schools on how to use disability protection laws (IEP and 504) to impose mask requirements, not only on students with health issues and disabilities (who are most likely to be harmed by masks), but also on anyone they may come into contact with at the school.

    Due to the fact that this is being done under the cloak of individualized special education plans, the entire issue will be confidential. So, we have no idea how many students and staff in Vermont, or across the U.S., are affected, or will be affected in the future if this is allowed to continue.

    The original letter I sent to the KESD Board explains this issue in detail, and provides links to the supporting documents. Please read it, and forward it to others:

    Amy Hornblas

    • Amy, thank you for your work on this. What would be some of the most useful things concerned citizens can do now? If you have already done a FOIA request, we now know the school district has no evidence that masks are safe (or they would have provided it). A group of concerned citizens showing up at a school board meeting is something we can do. I will set aside time in my schedule for this. Any other suggestions?
      It looks like their next meeting is Jan 10 at 6 pm and they say it’s by Zoom due to Covid but don’t provide a zoom link on the same page.

      • Hello Jennifer,

        You are right, it doesn’t look like the Kingdom East school board is meeting in person next month, and they do not provide a link for attending virtually.

        We can still submit written comments, which are also effective, as well as trying to get more media interested in covering the harms masks are doing to people.

        Going up the chain to the Agency of Education may also help. Public comments to the AOE’s Board can be sent to:

        We also need to keep in mind our end goal: Health and Happiness for us all. Unfortunately, the media keeps encouraging folks to use masks as an excuse to demonize, and name-call each other. Making us fear and distrust each other. Citizens who are being harmed are afraid to speak up at these meetings because they will be labeled for doing so, and the superintendents and school boards can say they feel threatened by how angry people are, and- using COVID as an excuse- return to virtual meetings. Divide and conquer.

        If we want to bring about healing, we must take the high road.

        We are all neighbors, and we have to resolve this together. We can simply speak truth with compassion and reason. I see this as an opportunity to refresh our humanity.

        Thank you for caring!
        ~ Amy

  19. As I’ve said from the beginning, mandates are not laws. Legislatures make laws, not governors, school boards, on any other entity. What they are doing is operating under “the color of law”, which simply means that someone or some body created a policy which they then treat as if it were real law. Sure, they can arrest you for violating some nonsense under “color of law”, but all it takes is enough people to stand together. What are they going to do, arrest 90% of the country? I think not. Regardless of whether you considering mandates to act as law, there is always civil disobedience.

    The Bill of Rights does not say “We have this right or that right, (unless some power-hungry politicians creates a mandate,)”. It says those rights are basic and fundamental. We need to get back to that way of thinking.

    Does it take guts to refuse to put on a mask when everyone else is wearing one? Sure does. So get started!

  20. I don’t live in Dr. Botzojorns’ insular little fiefdom either. But the first five hours or so of my labor every workweek go directly to education taxes – taxes that the Left insisted had to be equalized statewide in the interest of income redistribution, er, fairness. That includes taxes that support Kingdom East. Out here in the actual real world, that would make me something we call “a customer.” And this customer should have as much input as any other customer in the operations of the school districts I support.

  21. “Between 2000 and 2019, the number of district administrators grew by a whopping 87.6 percent during these years, far outstripping the growth in the number of students (7.6 percent) and teachers (8.7 percent)…the administrative state has something over 20 million employees, many of them at the federal but MOST AT THE STATE LEVEL.” – Larry P. Arnn, “Education as a Battleground”

    • It’s creeping crap like this that is destroying our government AND our schools. A near doubling of government workers to do exactly what ? Certainly nothing critical. The schools are just as bad now as they were in 2000 if not worse !