Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem and former MMA fighter Tito Ortiz’s two sons were sent home from school Tuesday for refusing to wear masks.
Ortiz’s girlfriend, model Amber Miller, posted a video to Instagram showing the boys walking into the Ocean View School District middle school without face coverings, as she clutched a piece of paper that read “Religious Exemption” on it.
Miller said the kids went to class but were asked to leave shortly after, and she received a call from the principal.
“I explained to her our religious beliefs and the fact that I will no longer be sending our children to school,” she said, adding that the boys will instead be participating in virtual learning.
Ortiz and Miller have been encouraging other parents to take a stand against masks as well.
“The mental health of your children is so much more important than following these guidelines,” Miller said on Instagram. “It is your right to breathe freely.”
Gina Clayton-Tarvin, a trustee of Ocean View School District, said mask rules are in place to protect children who aren’t vaccinated and who cannot get the shot because they’re under age 12.
“We are a pre-K to 8th grade district and so our kids are not protected from COVID-19. There’s no immunity,” she said.
Clayton-Tarvin, who announced last month that she’s running for a seat on the Huntington Beach City Council in 2022, calls the incident a political stunt.
“There’s no such thing as a religious exemption in the state of California, frankly anywhere, that has to do with these mask rules,” she said. “I happen to know [Miller] attends a Christian church. They don’t have beliefs that someone can’t wear a mask.”
Patricia Singer, president of the district’s board of trustees, says the school board is a public agency and is governed by the state’s health department, which mandates masks.
Ortiz has been critical of masks throughout the pandemic and has drawn criticism for his refusal to wear one. The Huntington Beach City Council held a vote in February on whether to strip Ortiz of his title as the city’s mayor pro tem, but ultimately decided to table the agenda item.
KTLA reached out to Ortiz for comment but had not received a response as of Wednesday night.