EXCLUSIVE: SJ school district, father spar over mask mandate after his sons refuse to wear facemasks

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ByJ.R. Stone via KGO logo
Friday, August 26, 2022
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San Jose's Alum Rock Union School District and a students' parent spar over mask mandate after children refuse to wear facemasks.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Another South Bay school district is addressing parents who are upset about the mask mandate in place.

A family from Alum Rock Union School District in San Jose tells ABC7 News the principal told them to pick up their children because they refused to wear a mask. There are now questions on whether or not the move was legal.

RELATED: Bay Area school district rescinds mask mandate after sending 4-year-old home for not having mask on

"The principal called me to come pick him up because he's refusing to wear his mask," said one of the parents of those children.

That Alum Rock Union School District parent who has chosen to not identify himself publicly is describing the situation for two of his kids at Adelante Academy in San Jose. Their father says both are unable to go to school because they won't wear a mask, something mandated in the district. One of those kids is seen in a picture waiting in the office for his father.

"It irritates their faces, their nose, their mouth, their lips around the top of their lips and bottom of their lips and ends up causing their nose to run, their eyes start to bother them," says the father.

Board of Trustee President of Alum Rock Union School District Andres Quintero says the mandate is about keeping community members safe.

"We have families that have to live with each other and not in a one family to one home situation but multiple families, multiple generations," said Quintero.

RELATED: CDC drops quarantine, social distancing, school screening recommendations for COVID-19

"We have asked all staff, students, and visitors to our campuses to wear masks indoors because the COVID rate in all our zip codes is still the highest in our county," said Superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer.

However, Santa Clara County health officials tell ABC7 News that while the East San Jose neighborhood was hit hard during the height of the pandemic with some of the highest COVID rates in the area, there is no current data to show the rates are still high there.

"School district's authority is to send a sick kid home. The California Constitution and our education code gives children a right to in-person instruction free from discrimination and harassment," says Tracy Henderson who founded the California Parents Union and is also an attorney.

"I said, 'Just to be clear so we understand each other, you're refusing to educate my healthy son because he won't wear a facemask?' And she repeatedly answered yes," said the father we spoke with.

The district says the boys weren't sent home, they were given options. Their father tells ABC7 News those consisted of wearing a mask for an hour with a two-minute break, doing independent study, or wearing a clear face shield.

RELATED: BART board votes to reinstate mask mandate effective immediately until Oct. 1

"The sad part is that they went from loving school to really hating school in a matter of two weeks. They were so excited to return and now they don't want to go back," says that father.

The district says they are keeping the policy in place while the father says he is looking at possible legal action.

Here is Superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer's full statement:

We have asked all staff, students, and visitors to our campuses to wear masks indoors because the COVID rate in all our zip codes is still the highest in our county. I have been asked by parents and staff groups to keep this mandate to protect those of us who live and work in our community. There are a few individuals who do not agree with my decision, but I need to think about the well-being of all our students and staff.

The students were not sent home. The parent decided to take them home not accepting the different choices we provided for his students.

Hope this gives you the other side of this situation. We welcome all our students and we hope that all our students can be respectful of the rules even if they don't agree with them.

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