Student speaking about grandmother dying of COVID heckled at school board meeting

"It was complete insanity from my perspective," the student says.

Thursday, September 9, 2021
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MURFREESBORO, Tennessee -- A school board meeting related to a COVID-19 mask policy in Rutherford County, Tennessee is now in the national spotlight.

"This time last year, my grandmother, who was a former teacher at the Rutherford County school system died of COVID because someone wasn't wearing a mask," Grady Knox, a Rutherford County student said.

Knox spoke in front of the Rutherford County school board Tuesday night in favor of a mask mandate. He tried to continue his speech, but got interrupted by laughing and heckling from adults in attendance.

The school board chairman ended up stepping in.

"Hey guys, we're here to act professional," he said.

"It was complete insanity from my perspective," Knox told WSMV-TV.

Knox is a junior at Central Magnet School. He said he could not believe what happened.

"If they laugh at me about a personal story about my grandmother, that's just disrespectful, I feel. So, I was like shaken a little bit," Knox said.

Board members like Claire Maxwell said the reaction from some in the audience did not sit well with them.

"We all wholeheartedly, all seven of us, were ashamed about what happened and we want to make sure nothing like that ever happens again," Maxwell said.

Two minutes of the roughly three-hour meeting have now spread on social media. Knox said it's not a reflection of Rutherford County.

"I hope that they can see that there's people like me that want to see change and look past all of the hecklers," Knox said.

For Knox, he said the laughing will not stop him from speaking up again.

"As long as I can get my message across, I don't really think it matters what the crowd thinks of me. Overall, they're not the ones making the decisions for the school," Knox said.

The school board said at a work session on Wednesday they'll be making a statement at Thursday's meeting about the now-viral video.

WSMV-TV has been trying to get in touch with the woman seen in the video, but could not reach her for comment on Wednesday.

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