BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Parents in the Central Community School System said their children were turned away from school on Thursday after showing up without a mask.
Pictures on social media show a group of students being held outside the school district’s office, after being rejected at school for failing to wear masks. One picture even shows a 7th grader crying as she walks away.
Brittany Sherlin has two children in Central schools and said she knew they were likely going to be sent home for defying the district’s mask mandate.
“We’re just trying to send our kids to school,” said Sherlin.
After arriving at school, the group of students was told they could not attend class after failing to mask up.
“I truly believe that my children are being discriminated against and the children in the system who, for whatever reason, can’t wear a mask on their face for eight hours a day,” said Sherlin.
Sherlin said she took the advice of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry who said there are ways around the mandate using a philosophical or religious exemption for their children in school.
Despite the loophole and pleas to make masks optional, Central School’s Superintendent Jason Fountain is standing by the decision to deny students who are not wearing masks.
“We don’t want any combativeness,” said Fountain.
He said parents were made aware of the guidelines multiple times in the weeks leading up to the first day. An email exchange posted online shows Fountain alerting parents of the guidance and repercussions.
“We want every kid to be in school, but right now we must follow the governor’s mask mandate,” said Fountain.
The district said it’s simple to understand rules are rules.
“Any individual who comes into the school building must wear a mask,” said Fountain.
Sherlin argues it’s not a rule, rather a case of discrimination.
“This is a civil right issue. It needs to be known that we are dealing with a civil rights issue right now,” said Sherlin. “Segregation doesn’t just apply to black people, segregation simply means separation, and right now, that is what’s happening. Our children are being separated from their schools.”