A father from Florida is accusing educators at an elementary school of forcing his daughter with Down Syndrome to wear a mask by tying it to her head for six weeks.
Jeffery Steele, father of Sofia Steele, explained that the seven-year-old girl is nonverbal and has an enlarged tongue. He told Fox News that he only found out about what the school was doing when Sofia got off the bus on Oct. 7 with a mask, soaked from saliva and tied to her head with a nylon string.
She had not worn a mask to school that day, or any other day, and Steele explained that masks are potentially dangerous because Sofia breathes through her mouth and cannot speak.
The girl reportedly attends Ocean Breeze Elementary School in Indian Harbour Beach, which had implemented its own mask mandate in September despite anti-mask mandate executive orders by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Sofia has an individual education plan at school, and educators are supposed to inform parents of any changes made to the plans. Steele said the school never spoke to him or his wife about a mask for their daughter and no one asked for their consent to tie it to her face during school.
Brevard Public Schools Chief Strategic Communications Officer Russell Bruhn said “The student was given a medical mask exemption as soon as the mother made the request to school leadership”. “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,” he added.
“I was just flabbergasted,” Steele said, after finding out that the school had been taking Sofia’s mask off before sending her home on the bus. He has hired an attorney and will be taking Sofia out of Ocean Breeze.
DeSantis and Republican Florida Rep. Randy Fine mentioned Sofia’s story last week and Fine said he was “sick” when he heard about it. He also mentioned wanting legislation that would increase penalties for people who force children to wear masks without their parents’ consent.