The police were called to a school bus after an elementary student in Washington, D.C., repeatedly removed his face mask while on board, reported WUSA 9.
Chioma Oruh, the mother of the student, told WUSA 9 that both of her sons, ages 10 and 7, have autism and that they attend a special nonpublic school in Rockville, Maryland, which is located about 20 miles northwest of where the family lives in D.C.
The March 26 incident occurred after the school bus had picked up both of Oruh’s sons. Oruh added that the bus had pulled over shortly after leaving the stop, and when she walked to see why, she was told by the bus attendant that her younger son, Jideofor, or “Jedi” had repeatedly taken off his face mask.
The attendant reportedly told Oruh that her son was violating safety protocols and told her to take him off the bus. Oruh said she showed the attendant a doctor’s note for both her sons that said, in part, “he should not be excluded or sent home if he refuses to wear the mask as long as he remains symptom-free and has no known COVID-19 contacts.”
Oruh reportedly continued to talk with the driver, attendant and bus dispatch for 30 minutes before two police officers arrived on scene. A video posted on Twitter shows the driver saying “we have nothing on file.” The video continues to show Oruh asking the officer why she was there and the bus driver stating that dispatch had contacted law enforcement.
D.C. Councilmember Robert White told WUSA 9 in a statement following the incident that, “Driver safety is an important issue, and not to be dismissed, but this situation should not have happened to a 7-year-old child. I’m grateful for the calm demeanor of the responding officer, but at some point we must move away from using police to settle civil matters because of the dangers it presents — trauma and possible escalation of situations that shouldn’t involve law enforcement.”
Oruh expressed her frustration with the situation. “We’ve needed support, we needed health care support, we needed educational support,” she said. “We got distance learning and the stopping of health care services in the home because of the pandemic. And, so now you expect a child who’s literally got no support to learn how to do these things, to execute a behavior that even some adults don’t know how to do.”