TOWNSHEND — A woman railing against vaccines and masks disrupted the West River Education District Board meeting, resulting in an unplanned-for break and the police arresting her.
Elizabeth Dery, who lives next door to Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School where the meeting was held Monday, became combative with board members and school staff as soon as she entered.
“I’m going to destroy you,” she said. “I’m SUNY Binghamton. I got in there because I’m smart. You didn’t get in there.”
Attendees said they could smell alcohol on Dery’s breath. As other officials worked to get Dery out of the building, Board Chairman Al Claussen told the Reformer the police had been called.
The Vermont State Police said troopers received a report of a disorderly woman at Leland & Gray at 7:36 p.m. Monday and identified Dery, 55. She was seen outside the school engaging in a verbal confrontation with members of the School Board, according to a news release from VSP.
“Upon further investigation, it was determined Dery had exhibited criminal behavior, to include disorderly conduct and violation of conditions of release,” states the news release.
Dery was arrested, held at Southern State Correctional Facility until sober and cited to appear in court Tuesday. Police said her conditions of release stemmed from an arrest in June for driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, attempting to elude and resisting arrest.
In October, the School Board received letters from the community requesting that the board make a statement against hate after a Nazi flag was spotted in Dery’s yard near Townshend Elementary School and Leland & Gray. The yard is still filled signs questioning the United States’ response to COVID-19 and commenting on political matters.
In response, the board released a statement denouncing hate.
“The West River Education District values all of our community members, no matter their backgrounds, abilities, or identities,” the board said. “While differences of opinions can be celebrated and debated, we condemn symbols of hate being displayed in our district which is in direct opposition to the welcoming and inclusive nature of our community as a whole.”
During the meeting Monday, Dery said she sold her house, which was met with applause by some in attendance.
Before the School Board issued a statement, the Townshend Select Board released one saying the town “values all residents and visitors, no matter their backgrounds or identities. While differences of opinions can be celebrated and debated, we condemn symbols of hate being displayed in our town, in disregard of the welcoming nature of our community as a whole.”
This story was updated at 10:21 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, 2022, to include information from the Vermont State Police.