California dad assaults teacher over masks on first day of school, superintendent says

California

AMADOR COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — It was the first day of school for a Sutter Creek elementary in Northern California this week, but it ended with a parent verbally assaulting a principal and physically assaulting a teacher over face coverings. 

“We had a great first day of school other than this one incident,” said Torrie Gibson, Amador County Unified School District superintendent. Sutter Creek Elementary School lies about 45 miles east of Sacramento.

It happened after school Wednesday when district officials say a father saw his daughter and a principal with face masks but did not see some teachers wearing theirs indoors. 

“Dad was upset feeling like there was a double standard,” Gibson said. 

That father went back to confront the principal and a teacher tried to stop the incident from escalating. 

“A male teacher stepped in fearing that the principal was going to be harmed, and that is when the parent struck the teacher, and the fight was on,” Gibson said. 

Gibson said she was disappointed to hear about the incident. 

“Physical violence it’s just not going to be tolerated,” Gibson said. 

Since students were released for the day, their guidelines allow for fully vaccinated teachers to not wear face masks indoors, Gibson says. The mask mandate was approved last week by the board of trustees, allowing parents to have their child opt out of wearing a face mask if they provide a doctor’s note. 

Many parents said, on and off camera, they understand the frustration but violence is never the answer. 

“[Teachers] should not be subjected to that kind of violence or that kind of adversity,” said Rebecca Tracy, an Amador County resident. 

Gibson hopes parents understand that district employees and teachers do not make the rules and the difficult position school staff are put in. 

“We just want everyone to take a breath and try and step back from the situation and really look at what’s important — and that is having kids on campus every day at school for their mental health,” Gibson said. 

Gibson sent the following letter to parents Thursday:

“It is with disappointment that I report an incident that occurred on one of our school campuses (Wednesday) after school. As the first day of school comes and goes, there are always hiccups along the way, especially during this trying time. Unfortunately, a parent took it upon himself to verbally assault a principal that led to a serious physical altercation between him and a teacher as the teacher intended to protect the principal.

If I ask nothing more of you this school year it is this. Take a breath, pause, listen and walk away if necessary. Assaulting a staff member will never be tolerated on any school campus and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Remember, we are not the ones making the rules/mandates, we are the ones required to follow/enforce them if we want to keep our doors open and students at school five days a week. Our staff have worked tirelessly to create the best possible school year for our students. They come early, stay late, and dedicate their lives to supporting each person as they walk in our doors. We have two goals this school year: (1) to keep all students and staff safe, and (2) to keep our doors open! It is truly that simple.

I beg that we do our best to set all feelings aside and look at what is best for students. We know emotions are high, and conversations are intense. We must promote and support school environments that are compassionate and sympathetic. I encourage you to connect with someone in our school community you feel comfortable confiding in to create a safe place to vent and obtain clarification as needed. The mandates are forever changing so understanding current requirements is critical. Staff will support you and listen at all times when communication is appropriate.

My door is always open if needed. Please reach out any time! We are in this together and will continue to have a far better school year than previously if we work collaboratively with our intent set on student success. Thank you for your understanding and support!”

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