High school student refuses to wear mask, given ride home by police in Missouri

Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 11:05 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HERCULANEUM, Mo. (KMOV/Gray News) - A Missouri high school student held a protest outside his school district’s office Monday over a face mask mandate.

Nearly 100 students and adults joined the protest with Tristan Watson, KMOV reported.

“We decided to come out here in solidarity with this young man, show him how proud we are of him exercising his rights,” said Sarah Harvey, parent of a middle school student.

His father, Michael Watson, said Tristan was called to the office Wednesday for not wearing a mask. He said his son was called to the office again Thursday for the same reason.

“Basically, I just came out and said I wasn’t going to wear a mask,” Tristan said.

Superintendent Dr. Clint Freeman said the district switched for three days to virtual learning two weeks ago because so many employees were out sick with COVID-19 or in quarantine.

“I don’t think anybody wants to wear a mask, but we also understand to keep our school doors open that’s one mitigation effort that we have to do right now to help with that,” Freeman said.

Freeman said when the student refused to wear a mask at school or agree to virtual learning, there was nothing left to do but send him home. Since Tristan didn’t have a car, Freeman said the school district arranged for a police officer to take him home.

A photo posted to social media showing Watson getting out of a police car in front of his house had elicited suggestions that police were called on him because he refused to wear a mask, and that he was made to do a “perp walk.”

Michael Watson confirmed the school called him to ask him to pick up his son, but he refused. Freeman said it’s common for the high school’s school resource officer to give a student a ride home if they’ve been sent home by the principal.

“Unfortunately, our school resource officer was out also. So, our local law enforcement helped with that and made sure the kid got home safely,” the superintendent said.

Michael Watson complained the district inconsistently enforces the mask mandate. Tristan said he’s hoping to work out a compromise on the mask policy.

Freeman said the school board would reevaluate the mask mandate at its next board meeting Feb. 15.

Copyright 2022 KMOV via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.