‘No foul play:’ State’s attorney closes case against Brevard school district for masking student

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida. – The state’s attorney’s office announced Monday that it found “no foul play” in the case filed against Brevard County Public Schools by the parents of a child with Down syndrome who had a mask attached to his head.

State’s Attorney Phil Archer said after reviewing that investigation, he found no criminality in the case against the school district.

Shirley and Jeffrey Steel, the pupil’s parents, have called for a criminal investigation into the school after it was discovered that staff had placed a mask on their child without his consent.

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Indian Harbor Beach police say they were contacted by the girl’s stepfather on October 8 to inform them that someone at Ocean Breeze Elementary School had strapped a mask to the child’s head. 7 years without the knowledge of his parents.

Investigators said they spoke with school staff. Several staff members admitted to using the shoelace to secure the mask on the child, records show, but added that they never tied it tightly or saw any distress from the girl over the mask . Staff said they used an example from the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation of using a shoelace or cord to hold the mask in place.

Staff added that the girl knew sign language to ask for help and did so often and that this ability was not hampered by the mask, according to police.

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Staff said they also sent a note to all of their students, including the daughter, stating the district’s masking policy, although they acknowledged they had no evidence that the parents of the 7-year-old years had seen the note and that they had never contacted his parents. directly.

Ultimately, police found there was no evidence, based on their investigation, to warrant criminal charges against staff for securing the mask on the 7-year-old girl; however, the investigation was forwarded to the state’s attorney’s office for further review.

“I want to commend Chief Butler and his team of investigators for a very thorough and professional investigation,” Archer said in a statement. “After careful review of the investigation reports, interviews and evidence provided to our office, we agree with the conclusion reached by Indian Harbor Beach Police that no foul play was committed. .”

Archer, a Republican, called the case a byproduct of today’s “politically charged climate”.

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“While the concern for the well-being of any child subject to these types of allegations is understandable, the immediate character attacks broadcast electronically targeting teachers, administrators and support staff were not only disturbing, but turned out to be totally baseless. As leaders and as a community, we need to do better,” Archer said.

Brevard County Public Schools also released a statement following the announcement that there would be no criminal charges against the district:

“We are pleased, but not surprised, with today’s results. The police and state attorney’s thorough investigation shows that there was no abuse. The facts that emerge from the police report are a good reminder of the danger of jumping to conclusions.

Although there are no criminal charges in the case, the girl’s family has filed a lawsuit against Brevard County Public Schools.

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The lawsuit was filed in federal court in December.

The lawsuit was filed against the school district, school board members and the girl’s teachers.

According to the lawsuit, the Steels seek compensatory and punitive damages.

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