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SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has apologized for inquiring about a Mahomet-Seymour school board member's views on the state mask mandate and for telling Dr. Jeremy Henrichs that "an official investigation" would be launched under the Medical Practice Act.

Late Friday afternoon, a day after Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose told The News-Gazette that he planned to call for a probe into the agency's actions against Henrichs, who's also a Carle Health sports-medicine physician, a Senate GOP staffer released a letter of apology from IDFPR general counsel Dina Torrisi Martin.

It read in part: "The initial response to your inquiry requested information that the Department does not need. Please disregard the questions posed in the emails of August 11 and 17, 2021. On behalf of the Department, I sincerely apologize for the tone and content of those communications."

In that Aug. 11 email, IDFPR asked Henrichs for a detailed statement on his opinion about face masks and whether he supports and will enforce a mask mandate based on his elected position as a school board member.

The information was requested “pursuant to an official investigation” by the agency’s Medical Investigations Unit after a complaint was filed.

“This would fall under the unprofessional-conduct part of the Medical Practice Act,” the email said. “What the medical disciplinary board wants to know is if the doctor will support and enforce the mask mandate by the governor.”

In a statement released Friday by a Decatur-based law firm, Henrichs acknowledged and said he appreciated that, according to acting IDFPR Secretary Mario Treto Jr., the agency's "preliminary review of this complaint has concluded and the strong recommendation to the Medical Disciplinary Board will be that this complaint be closed when the Board meets" on Sept. 1.

"While Dr. Henrichs looks forward to the Medical Disciplinary Board's formal closure of this complaint and getting back to seeing his patients, productive conversations as a member of the Mahomet-Seymour Board of Education and, most of all, allowing his family to move forward without this awful distraction, until this complaint has, in fact, formally been dismissed, Dr. Henrichs has nothing further to say at this time."

Henrichs had supported a plan approved by the Mahomet-Seymour school board on July 22, prior to Pritzker issuing the mandate, that called for unvaccinated students to wear masks and for universal masking to be required if COVID-19 transmission in the area became substantial, according to Superintendent Lindsey Hall.

While the district’s reopening plan has been amended to reflect Pritzker's Aug. 4 order on masks, the school board didn’t take another official vote on masks after the mandate was issued.


Original story:

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Chapin Rose is seeking an investigation into a probe by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration into a Mahomet-Seymour school board member’s position on the state’s school mask mandate.

The Mahomet Republican said Thursday that he filed the complaint with the Office of the Executive Inspector General on the advice of his caucus’s ethics officer.

The issue centers on Carle Health sports-medicine physician Dr. Jeremy Henrichs, who is also a member of the Mahomet-Seymour school board.

In an Aug. 11 email, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation asked Henrichs for a detailed statement on his opinion about face masks and whether he supports and will enforce a mask mandate based on his elected position as a school board member.

The information was requested “pursuant to an official investigation” by the agency’s Medical Investigations Unit after a complaint was filed.

An Aug. 17 email to Henrichs’ attorney from the state agency said the person who filed the complaint “appears to be a parent or concerned citizen who did not agree with the doctor’s opinion on the masking motion for schools.”

“This would fall under the unprofessional-conduct part of the Medical Practice Act,” the email said. “What the medical disciplinary board wants to know is if the doctor will support and enforce the mask mandate by the governor.”

Pritzker announced Aug. 4 that masks would be required in schools for all students, faculty and staff, and the Mahomet-Seymour school district is upholding the mandate.

Henrichs supported a plan approved by the Mahomet-Seymour school board on July 22, prior to Pritzker issuing the mandate, that called for unvaccinated students to wear masks and for universal masking to be required if COVID-19 transmission in the area became substantial, according to Superintendent Lindsey Hall.

While the district’s reopening plan has been amended to reflect Pritzker's Aug. 4 order on masks, the school board didn’t take another official vote on masks after the mandate was issued.

“The reason our board of education did not vote specifically to follow the mask mandate is because the executive order has the weight of law,” Hall said.

Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said state agencies are “required to process complaints with due diligence following standard protocols.”

“The Pritzker administration has not and will not seek disciplinary action against the professional licenses of individuals who disagree with the mask mandate,” she said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and misleading rumor-mongering.”

In a statement from Henrichs shared by Rose, the doctor said he has considered “authoritative medical evidence” that questions the necessity of mandatory masking in schools.

“As a result, the IDPFR has threatened my medical licensure unless I expressly support and enforce a mask mandate for all students,” he said. “The IDPFR has commanded me to toe the line or suffer personal and professional consequences.”

Rose said Henrichs is his constituent and he’s “known him forever.”

“And I’ll tell you, actually, I’ve been a patient of him,” Rose said. “And, by the way, he does wear masks in his clinical setting.”

Rose said Henrichs told him he’d received a communication from the state agency about an investigation not because of his conduct as a physician but because he doesn’t agree with the governor in his role as an elected school board member.

“This is a frightening abuse of power,” Rose said about the investigation.

He called it “frankly un-American that any administration would try to threaten someone’s professional license to force them to vote in a certain way.”

Henrichs also said the state agency actions “constitute a direct threat from the state to the well-being of my family and all board members to freely and independently exercise the duties of elected office.”

“The health of our student body is something I place first in my public role,” Henrichs went on to say. “However, the health of our democratic system is dead if we tolerate the intimidation targeting me and chilling the independence of innumerable other elected public officials.”

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said it takes all allegations against licensees seriously.

“Complaints filed with the department, as well as investigations undertaken by the department, are confidential, unless and until a public complaint or discipline is issued by the department,” said an agency statement. “If the department determines a physician violated the Medical Practice Act, an appropriate course of action will be taken.”

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