Down Syndrome, Non-Verbal Child Forced To Wear Mask For Weeks Without Parents’ Consent, Parents Say


A young Florida girl who has Down Syndrome, has an enlarged tongue, and is non-verbal, was allegedly forced at school to wear a mask for six weeks without her parents’ consent, leaving her face reportedly full of saliva, and the only reason the parents found out was that the school forgot to remove the mask one day before she went home.

“Jeffery Steele’s daughter, Sofia Steele, is nonverbal and has an enlarged tongue. On Oct. 7, Sofia stepped off of the school bus with a mask, wet from her saliva, tied to her head with a thin, nylon string,” the father told Fox News. Sofia did not leave to go to school wearing a mask that day or any previous day.

The school, Indian Harbour Beach’s Ocean Breeze Elementary School, began imposing a mask mandate in September despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) banning schools from requiring them.

On October 12, Jeffery Steele went to the school to find out what was going on, having waited five days. He said he waited because he needed to “take some time” to collect himself. School personnel reportedly admitted Sofia had been wearing a mask for six weeks. Steele and his wife had previously notified the school that they were seeing “big behavior changes in Sofia at home.”

Steele stated, “We wanted to work with the school — we were working with her IEP — because we were getting notes all the time about Sofia’s behavior at school. This was concerning to us because we were seeing the same sort of negative behavior at home, and we told them that. We still did not know there was a mask on her face at this time.”

On Wednesday, Florida Rep. Randy Fine (R), who is considering introducing legislation that would more heavily penalize people who force children to wear masks without their parents’ consent, blasted the school district. He stated:

When she got off the school bus a few days ago, her father saw her and she was wearing a mask. Now, in my school district, we have an illegal mask mandate. But she was wearing a mask, even though under their own illegal mask mandate’s rules she shouldn’t have had to. But it wasn’t enough that she was wearing a mask because she’s a special needs non-verbal Downs Syndrome child, who, by the way, three weeks earlier, the school district had called the parents and said, “Your daughter’s taking her shoes off in school. Could you help us to make sure she keeps her shoes on. They were willing to call about that.

When her father get off the school bus, she was wearing a mask and it was tied around her head with nylon rope. The mask was full of saliva. The girl couldn’t breathe. Father’s furious. How could they do that to my daughter today?

So he went to the school and he talked to the school. And he found out that they didn’t do it that day; they had tied this mask around her face every single day for the previous six weeks that she was in school. They just forgot to take it off that day before they sent her home. So when the parents said, “What on earth were you thinking?” to the teacher and to the principal,  their answer was, “The school board told us that our students all had to wear masks.”

There’s a special place in Hell for the three people who did this to this girl. This girl experienced real child abuse at the hands of the Brevard County School Board and I will tell you this: This session there’s going to be hell to pay for the people who did that.

Brevard Public Schools Chief Strategic Communications Officer Russell Bruhn issued a statement, saying, “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.”

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