An infuriated Florida father says that his daughter’s school has been tying a mask to the face of his non-verbal daughter without his knowledge or consent for six weeks.
Jeffrey Steele told Fox News that his 7-year-old daughter, Sofia, came home with a mask on earlier this month that had been tied to her face with a nylon string.
The mask was soaked with saliva, Steele said, and as Sofia has Down syndrome and an enlarged tongue and breathes through her mouth, it posed a serious risk to her health in more ways than one.
He says he had assumed that his daughter was exempt from the school’s mask requirements and that no one told him or his wife that she would be required to wear one, and that they were most certainly never informed that school staffers were tying one to her face with string every day.
Although Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has tried to ban mask mandates in the state’s public schools, some counties have done so anyway.
Ocean Breeze Elementary School in Indian Harbour Beach, where Sofia has an individual education plan (IEP), implemented a mask mandate in September.
“I was just flabbergasted,” Steele said of the moment his daughter came home from school with the mask tied to her face.
When he and his wife confronted the school on the mask, they allegedly admitted that they’d been tying one to her face or securing it with hair clips for weeks, without ever informing the couple.
As she’d never come home with the mask on before, Steele suspects that staffers were removing it before she got on the bus.
“We wanted to work with the school — we were working with her IEP — because we were getting notes all the time about Sofia’s behavior at school,” Steele told Fox, explaining that they’d been told Sofia had been taking her shoes off at school. “This was concerning to us because we were seeing the same sort of negative behavior at home, and we told them that. We still did not know there was a mask on her face at this time.”
The family has now hired an attorney and pulled Sofia out of school.
The story has received the attention of DeSantis as well as Florida state Rep. Randy Fine, who said he was “sick” to hear the Steele’s story.
“This is already criminal. I…plan to introduce legislation to increase the penalty,” he told Fox. “…We’re going to be having a special session in Tallahassee, and I expect that we’ll pass a law in Sofia’s honor that puts people like Brevard Heart school board members who did this to Sofia in prison for a very long time.”
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