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Minnesota doc fired for telling officials parents should have right to decide if children wear masks

A Minnesota surgeon believes he was fired from his job after telling school officials that parents should have the choice of whether or not their children wear masks to school.

Dr. Jeffrey Horak spoke before the school board at a public meeting in the town of Fergus Falls on October 11. He gave a speech against the school’s temporary mask mandate, which had gone into effect the day prior. 

‘You mandate this across the road – that’s a tough place to go,’ Horak told the board.

He then suggested there was a higher power in charge of the students’ behavior over the school board.  

‘Who does God put in charge of these kids? Their parents. God gave each one of these kids… to their parents and they speak for them. They may be wrong, they may be dumb, they may be perfect in their decisions. But it’s still their responsibility. It’s not yours. God gave it to them. Honor their wishes, either side of the fence.’

Just nine days later, on October 20, Horak claims he was fired by Lake Region Healthcare (LRH), being told his ‘views were no longer congruent’ with the provider. 

Dr. Jeffrey Horak claims he was asked to resign or face termination at his job nine days after giving a speech against a mask mandate at a local school board meeting

'You mandate this across the road — that's a tough place to go,' Horak told the board

‘You mandate this across the road — that’s a tough place to go,’ Horak told the board

Horak was asked to either resign or be terminated.   

‘We live in America where freedoms are held close. I am a man who believes individuals have the right to do their research and decide what is best for them and their children when it comes to their health. I don’t believe governments or institutions should dictate that,’ Horak said in a statement during the rally on October 25. 

A Lake Region Healthcare spokesperson said they were a subsidiary of Lake Region Medical Group and claims that their board of directors ‘made the decision about discontinuing Dr. Horak’s practice, not LRH.’

Dr. Greg Smith, president of the board, said they made the ‘decision to discontinue Dr. Jeff Horak’s employment contract after a thorough review process.’

He claims that this was merely a peer review decision.  

‘The reasons for Dr. Horak’s separation are a confidential matter,’ Dr. Smith said in a statement. ‘To be clear, this was a decision that was made by Dr. Horak’s peers who serve on the Medical Group Board, not by Lake Region Healthcare, the community-based hospital where Dr. Horak practiced General Surgery.’

Horak believes there could be several reasons for his firing, including not always wearing his mask after the state mandate was lifted, or a comment he made during a school board meeting about monkeys being able to tie knots being ‘misconstrued’ as racist.   

On Monday, Horak's local community in Fergus Falls showed up in the hundreds to hear him speak in support of the doctor

On Monday, Horak’s local community in Fergus Falls showed up in the hundreds to hear him speak in support of the doctor

Many of those in the crowd held signs that declared they were on the side of 'medical freedom' and supported Dr. Horak

Many of those in the crowd held signs that declared they were on the side of ‘medical freedom’ and supported Dr. Horak

Horak spoke to the crowd and identified the reasons that they came together. 'One, you're becoming aware that your freedoms are being taken away. Two, professionals such as myself are being silenced, and then so are you. If it happens to me, it can happen to all of us,' Horak told the crowd. 'And third, you're afraid. We're all afraid'

Horak spoke to the crowd and identified the reasons that they came together. ‘One, you’re becoming aware that your freedoms are being taken away. Two, professionals such as myself are being silenced, and then so are you. If it happens to me, it can happen to all of us,’ Horak told the crowd. ‘And third, you’re afraid. We’re all afraid’

‘Or perhaps my termination is because I was empowering the parents,’ Horak said. ‘I may never know.’

On October 25, his local community in Fergus Falls showed up in the hundreds to hear him speak in support of the doctor.   

‘This isn’t a conservative vs. liberal, or vaxxed vs. unvaxxed, or mask vs. no mask issue,’ Angie Brown, a local resident who organized the rally, said. ‘This is an issue of right vs. wrong and I am so happy that so many in our community recognized this wrong and were willing to show up, both to support Dr. Horak, but to also, in a peaceful way, voice their disagreement with Lake Region Medical Group.’

Horak spoke to the crowd and identified the reasons that they came together.

‘One, you’re becoming aware that your freedoms are being taken away. Two, professionals such as myself are being silenced, and then so are you. If it happens to me, it can happen to all of us,’ Horak told the crowd. ‘And third, you’re afraid. We’re all afraid. Today I want to empower you to say, ‘I stand up with Dr. Horak. Truly, I stand with you.’ 

The mask mandate in Fergus Falls was in place for two weeks, ending on October 24.

‘The Fergus Falls School District welcomes public comment and has a process in place for community members who wish to address the board,’ Jeff Drake, the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools, said Tuesday.




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