A father has been left fuming when his non-verbal little girl with Down Syndrome had a 'face mask tied to her head' at school.
The alleged incident happened on October 7, at Ocean Breeze Elementary School in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida.
According to Jeffrey Steele, his daughter Sofia had “stepped off of the school bus with a mask tied to her face with a nylon rope”.
This American school had implemented its own mask mandate in September, in a bid to combat Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-mask mandate executive orders.
However, the distressed father assured that Sofia’s school knew the little girl suffered from a condition, causing her tongue to be enlarged, and was therefore exempt from wearing the mask at school, due to “the danger it could pose to her”.
Jeffrey shared a picture of his seven-year-old daughter, wearing the said mask, with the mask’s strings tied with a blue thin cord at the back of her ponytail.
He claimed that “with the mask tied to her face,” Sofia was “unable to breathe properly and unable to express her distress”.
In a campaign Sofia’s parents launched titled “Sofia’s Rights”, on Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo – which has already raised over $30,000 – Jeffrey wrote the little girl 'panicked'.
They said: “My wife recognized Sofia’s panic, her face covered causing her breathing to be restricted, blocking her ability to say "memai," then comforted Sofia after removing her mask and taking pictures of the rope tied around Sofia’s head to secure a mask to her face.
“The mask was totally wet from her saliva.”
Jeffrey’s campaign intends to raise funds, in a bid to “take legal action against the school directly”.
Jeffrey has since told Fox News that “his daughter has an individual education plan that caters to her personal needs”.
Consequently, the angry dad claimed that “families are supposed to be informed by schools when changes are made to their child’s education plan”.
He alleges that Sofia’s school never informed the family that she was being made to wear a mask and were “never asked to consent”.
Brevard Public Schools Chief Strategic Communications Officer, Russell Bruhn, told Fox News that Sofia was, in fact, given a medical mask exemption “as soon as the mother made the request to school leadership.”
He added: “The school district is investigating and is in the process of gathering all the facts.
“BPS strives to ensure each student has the best educational experience possible and will continue in that effort.”
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