11-year-old suspended at Red Creek middle school for mask violation: Mother says punishment is too harsh

A Red Creek mother is speaking out after her son’s experience in the Red Creek Central School District.

Kelly Teeter reached out to FingerLakes1.com after her son, David, was suspended for not wearing his mask properly.

Like most schools, Red Creek has a mask policy for its students. The district has a three step disciplinary process, according to documents that were provided to Teeter and other parents in the district.

Students must wear masks that cover nose and mouth. It’s only allowed to be taken off while sitting in a classroom.

Teeter’s problem is with the punishment that came along with her son’s third violation. “It’s adding insult to injury,” she explained of 11-year-old David’s situation. “I just think some other form of punishment would have been more appropriate because he’s so young.”

What should schools do with mask rule violators?

Teeter said that from her conversations with officials at the middle school – David wasn’t intentionally not following policy. “His mask would slip down below his nose and he wouldn’t adjust it in a timely manner,” she told FingerLakes1.com. “The principal never indicated that he was refusing to wear the mask, just that he was reminded ‘too many times’.”

She isn’t certain where the issue originated. Teeter has been advocating for more information on the situation, but her son was suspended for a single day after the third incident.

After the first incident, a notification was posted in the school’s communication system to Teeter. The second time she received a call home. The third time is when the one-day suspension was initiated.

“My issue isn’t so much that he’s being punished,” Teeter continued. “I know they have rules they need to follow. I feel the punishment is too severe for what he’s actually doing.”

Red Creek’s ‘back to school’ timeline was complicated due to COVID-related issue

The district was one of very few that extensively delayed returning to in-person learning. Teeter says her son’s school didn’t go back to in-person learning until the end of September.

“So school has only been in-person for 36 days,” she continued. “Of those 36 days, my son missed 15.”

The 11-year-old was quarantined twice and out sick and unable to return until he received a negative test back. Teeter says to make matters worse, the district has no plan in place to educate students in quarantine or out sick.

“This has been addressed with the school board at multiple meetings and there is no resolution in sight,” Teeter added. “My major complaint with the suspension is that he has already missed so much school and I want him in the class learning. If they want to punish him, that is their choice. I’ve suggested alternative punishments, such as detention, but I am just given the run-around.”

She says intent is important, and her son is simply trying to adjust to the way things are right now.

“Again, my impression from the principal is that he has been reminded too many times. The principal has not indicated that he is intentionally not wearing the mask or refusing to do so,” she concluded.


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