Laramie, WY — The Board of Education in Albany County School District 1 of Wyoming has voted 6-1 to keep its mark of the sheep, or mask mandate to continue indefinitely after one of its schools, Laramie High School, had a 16-year-old girl handcuffed, arrested and fined for showing her face at school.
As recently reported, Laramie junior Grace Smith was arrested last week for not wearing a mask at school.
The district’s masking requirement was set to expire on Oct. 15, but the school board extended it at its Oct. 13 meeting.
The approved item allows this mandate to go on indefinitely until certain metrics are met. Even if they meet the metrics, they will ask for approval from so-called “health experts” first. It states: “Universal Masking Exit Strategy: If COVID-19 data metrics decrease to the threshold when the county COVID-19 transmission level indicator is yellow (Moderate Transmission Level) for a three-week period, or the county vaccination rate is at least 70%, the school board will consult with state and local health officials and consider removing the universal face mask requirement.”
You may recall that the district’s superintendent, Jubal Yennie, and Laramie’s principal, Jeffrey Lewis, met with Grace and her father Andy Smith. In a video, Yennie is clearly seen as cold and callous with absolutely no problem saying he will suspend students who don’t follow his dictates.
To start the Oct. 13 meeting, Yennie opens the meeting with a statement audaciously claiming himself a victim after he had a teenager arrested, one who acted with the utmost politeness as she was being cuffed and forcibly removed from her school.
“Our school board, principals, teachers, and administrators are human beings,” Yennie said. “We are your friends, neighbors, and family members. And not one of us wants to cause stress, strife, or worse yet, harm. While disagreements about our educational system can be constructive, we found that this pandemic has brought out the very worst in us.”
The board, which used a completely virtual meeting, changed its public comments for the meeting to limit comments to only 15 people. One of those who addressed the board was Grace Smith. Here are her comments:
“Before I start, these are my words and my words alone, uninfluenced by my parents. I’m a junior at LHS, and since the beginning of the school year, I’ve been acting on my personal decision to not wear a mask. This should have been a respected decision, but astonishingly I was arrested on school grounds due to this decision. Arrested! I now owe $1,000 in trespassing citations for freely going to school.”
“Before I continue, I would like to say that in all of my recent encounters with the authority figures which I have addressed my issues with, such as yourselves, I have striven to act with the utmost respect. I will continue to try to do this in this speech as well because as board members you are not the only party accountable for the actions afflicted upon me. However, this does not belittle the impact each of you has had individually on every aspect of my life.”
“I was unlawfully arrested from my own school. You have bestowed an egregious amount of power upon yourselves. You have instilled a sense of false hope in each parent that has given you the privilege of educating their child. I want to make it very clear to you that you do not own us as kids. You have no right to tell us who we get to be, and you have absolutely no right to make our health decisions for us or for our parents.”
“I would like to inform you of our Wyoming Constitutional rights which you have clearly tried to operate above. Article 1, Section 38A states ‘each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own healthcare decisions. The parent, guardian or legal representative of any other natural person should have the right to make healthcare decisions for that person.’”
“Let that sink in for one moment. You have taken enough power into your hands that it’s as if you’re trying to become the legal guardian of not only me, but every child enrolled under your umbrella. You may believe that what you’re doing is ‘what’s best for all,’ but you cannot legally do any of this.”
“Parents, that’s a scary thought. Before you, as parents, make a decision, I want you to acknowledge that I am pro-choice for the masks. I don’t want to make my fight about the efficacy of masks or masks alone. I want this to be about our civil liberties and the liberties of you as a parent to decide for your own child.”
“I am begging everyone listening to me right now to realize how divided we have become. This is about high school students. High school’s hard enough already. Why are we making it harder? Why are we teaching these kids wrong things, and what are we teaching the kids of a younger school age? Why can’t we just come together and let these families make their own decisions so we can all go back to school to deal with normal high school problems.”
“I hope what I’ve said has impacted at least some of you to realize how necessary it is to put an end to this fight and once again unify ourselves. Lastly, I want every single one of you to let this sink in. I have been put in serious danger. I’ve been bullied, discriminated against and worst of all, legitimately threatened. What about the rest of the students without masks? Why did you target me?”
“Since the lockdown and my arrest, I have not been able to safely return to the school. Due to the absurdity of the whole ordeal from school officials, consider this as my official withdrawal from Laramie High School. I hope other families are able to feel safety within your building that you have failed to provide to me. Do not fail them as you failed me.”
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