The first day of school for a Sutter Creek elementary in Northern California last week ended with a parent physically assaulting a teacher over face mask requirements.
Anger from parents over masks has been simmering in rural Amador County, and it reached a peak earlier when for the first time a teacher was attacked.
A father became irate when he saw his daughter come out of school wearing a mask but teachers in a lounge were unmasked.
Vaccinated staff are allowed to take off their masks if students aren’t present, said Amador County Unified School District Superintendent Torie Gibson.
The father was told this and left, but returned later to speak with the principal.
“Dad was upset feeling like there was a double standard,” Gibson told KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento.
A concerned male teacher went to the principal’s office. An argument ensued and the father struck the teacher, according to the superintendent.
“The teacher had some lacerations and bruising on his face and a knot on the back of his head,” Gibson said.
He was treated at a hospital and returned to work the following day. Still, the incident has shaken teachers and the community.
“The teachers have definitely been on edge. They are fearful because the last thing they want is to have an issue with a parent,” Gibson said. “They definitely looked over their shoulder for quite a few days, but I think things are now a little bit more calm.”
Meanwhile, the father is prohibited from entering the school and could face prosecution.
“We had a great first day of school other than this one incident,” Gibson said.
Many parents said they understand the frustration but violence is never the answer.
“[Teachers] should not be subjected to that kind of violence or that kind of adversity,” said Rebecca Tracy, an Amador County resident.
Gibson hopes parents understand that district employees and teachers do not make the rules and the difficult position school staff are put in.
“We just want everyone to take a breath and try and step back from the situation and really look at what’s important — and that is having kids on campus every day at school for their mental health,” Gibson said.
Gibson sent the following letter to parents Thursday:
“It is with disappointment that I report an incident that occurred on one of our school campuses (Wednesday) after school. As the first day of school comes and goes, there are always hiccups along the way, especially during this trying time. Unfortunately, a parent took it upon himself to verbally assault a principal that led to a serious physical altercation between him and a teacher as the teacher intended to protect the principal.
If I ask nothing more of you this school year it is this. Take a breath, pause, listen and walk away if necessary. Assaulting a staff member will never be tolerated on any school campus and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Remember, we are not the ones making the rules/mandates, we are the ones required to follow/enforce them if we want to keep our doors open and students at school five days a week. Our staff have worked tirelessly to create the best possible school year for our students. They come early, stay late, and dedicate their lives to supporting each person as they walk in our doors. We have two goals this school year: (1) to keep all students and staff safe, and (2) to keep our doors open! It is truly that simple.
I beg that we do our best to set all feelings aside and look at what is best for students. We know emotions are high, and conversations are intense. We must promote and support school environments that are compassionate and sympathetic. I encourage you to connect with someone in our school community you feel comfortable confiding in to create a safe place to vent and obtain clarification as needed. The mandates are forever changing so understanding current requirements is critical. Staff will support you and listen at all times when communication is appropriate.
My door is always open if needed. Please reach out any time! We are in this together and will continue to have a far better school year than previously if we work collaboratively with our intent set on student success. Thank you for your understanding and support!”