A middle school in Santa Ana, California was accused of forcing a special needs student to stay outside for hours in 90-degree weather after being kicked out for not wearing a mask.
Ezra Nelson’s first day of school at Hewes Middle School in the Tustin Unified School District on Aug. 12 was off to a smooth start until he arrived maskless to choir class. After being asked to put one on, Ezra politely declined, telling his teacher he preferred not to.
His mother Emily Nelson said Ezra should have been exempt from wearing a mask since he had a doctor’s note and a 504 plan, which is a blueprint developed by the school to support students with disabilities.
Ezra was escorted to the front office where he reportedly waited outside for instructions. This would be the first of nearly six hours that he waited outside to be let back in.
It was around 8:40 a.m. when Nelson received a call from the vice principal recommending Ezra be taken home.
“We had a long conversation because I was trying to fight for his rights and remind them that he has a 504, he has a note from the doctor, and he needs to be in class,” Nelson told The Epoch Times.
“He has a right to be at school, free and fair education. He’s going to stay here.”
Nelson said she told the school they couldn’t discriminate against her son for his medical condition, but school officials told her that all students must abide by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines.
Rather than take her son home, Nelson instructed him to go back to class. However, the school’s office doors were locked, and when Nelson called back to request the whereabouts of her son, she was told that he was out front. The doors were locked, but they could see him through the front window.
It wasn’t long until the word got out about the incident, and dozens of individuals arrived at the school in support of the middle schooler and his mom at around 11 a.m.
Protestors arrived from all over Orange County and Los Angeles. Along the sidewalks, voices chanted “Ezra” and “Let them breathe.”
In the mid-afternoon, around 200 protesters filled the pavement outside, Nelson said.
Meanwhile, Ezra wept and waited in the heat until the final school bell rang.
While Ezra was met with an abundance of support, opposers of the protest were disappointed in the demonstration occurring outside the middle school.
The Epoch Times overheard a parent saying she was upset her child had to witness and pass by demonstrators.
Under CDPH mask guidelines for K–12 schools, masks must be worn indoors, and exemptions cover individuals with medical conditions, mental health conditions, or disabilities.
The Epoch Times reached out to Hewes Middle School for comment but didn’t hear back by press deadline.