In Arizona, a school is facing backlash for its poor treatment of a 5-year-old student with autism who did not wear a mask on the bus for his first day of school, as reported by the New York Post.
On Wednesday, Jack Griffith was heading to his first day of Kindergarten at Bush Elementary School in Mesa. His mother, Beth, recalled to a local newspaper how Jack was nervous about his first day, but at the same time was excited to finally start school.
However, despite his condition being made known to the school, which had already arranged for him to be in a special-needs classroom, a bus driver refused to let Jack board the bus in the morning. When Jack’s parents, Beth and Troy, were told by the driver that Jack had to wear a mask in order to ride, Troy countered by pointing out that the school’s guidelines had an exemption for students with special needs.
The bus driver still refused to let Jack board, even calling a district staffer who agreed with the driver and wouldn’t let Jack on. Jack’s mother pointed out that there were already only three other students on the bus, thus meaning that social distancing was entirely possible without a mask.
Troy eventually drove his son to school himself, where he was told by a staffer that the bus driver’s decision was an error. The staffer then assured the parents that Jack would be allowed to ride on the bus without a mask in the future.
However, Beth later said in a social media post that the experience had left Jack “terrified to ride the bus now.” Although several staffers apologized for the incident, a statement from Mesa Public Schools tried to place blame for the incident on the parents. Spokeswoman Heidi Hurst falsely claimed that “the parent voluntarily chose to have their child not ride the bus. There was not a denial of transportation.” Hurst described the situation as “a favorable result” for the school.
In a later statement, Beth refuted the school district’s claims, saying that the statement “couldn’t be more inaccurate.” She added that Jack has been “very overwhelmed and confused by everything that’s happened over the last two days.”