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Gananda Schools release students early due to planned mask protest

by WayneTimes.com
September 20, 2021

A Gananda mother is taking action after she says her son was berated by a bus monitor for not wearing a mask, despite a medical exemption.

The Macedon Police Department reported the arrest of Laine M. Mulye, age 35, of Macedon on September 9, at 1:32 P.M. 

It is alleged Mulye got into a physical altercation with a Gananda Bus Monitor following a verbal dispute about her child wearing a mask. It is also alleged Mulye encouraged her child to punch the bus monitor during the physical altercation. 

She was charged with Harassment in the 2nd Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.  She was transported to the Wayne County Jail to await CAP Court  and released to appear in Macedon Town Court. An Order of Protection was issued for the victim.

In response to the arrest, Mulye’s attorney, Chad Hummel claimed that soon after getting on, the bus monitor basically started screaming at this young child who has special needs.

Hummel says his client’s son has a medical exemption and is not required to wear a mask. He also claims the school district knew a doctor’s note was forthcoming.

“I have reviewed an email from last week that pre-dated this incident, where the superintendent was aware of this issue,” said Hummel.

Because of the Federal Education Privacy Act, the district cannot comment. However, Gananda Central Schools’ attorney says if that were the case,  accommodations would have been made.

“If a child were to be granted a medical exemption, then provisions are put in place to allow the child to attend the school without a mask,” said Joe Shields. District Superintendent Shawn VanScoy stated he stands behind the bus monitor. 

The District requires students to mask up indoors, including while on the school bus. 

Before the school year began, Mulye reportedly took her concerns about the district’s masking guidance to the school board. She expressed those same concerns during a virtual forum on Aug. 18. “If that means parents choosing to mask their children, then that is their right,” she said during that forum. “In the same, I implore the Gananda School District to please make masks optional.” Her attorney claims there is a potential Mulye was targeted for her stance. The district disputes this. “There is absolutely no targeting or anything of that nature,” said Shields. “In no circumstances should anyone get into a physical altercation over such a situation,” he added. “It’s just tragic. It’s tragic.”

On Wednesday (9/15), the Gananda Central School District sent out an e-mail to parents in the Gananda School District: “Yesterday, on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, the school day was disrupted when a social media threat was intercepted by law enforcement from an individual that was planning to attend a rally in the community for the support of Autism Awareness. Law Enforcement and the District received this information midday which led to a complete change in plans. In an effort to maintain our student and staff safety, we made the decision to release all students early ahead of the protest.” 

“As I have stated in the past, the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority,” states Superintendent Dr. Shawn Van Scoy. “I want to thank the quick actions of our local law enforcement, our staff, and our parents yesterday. We were not planning an early dismissal, however, it was the best option we had under the ever changing circumstances we continually find ourselves in. Threats are not tolerated in any way, shape, or form.”

“In addition, we will not be allowing walkers to walk home. Instead, we will have busses ready to transport those students to their homes. Students that are normally picked up, we will hold indoors until parents arrive. Students that stay for the YMCA programs will be transported to Eastside YMCA.”

“We recognize this is short notice for parents. Please know we will hold students until such time as you can arrive. This is not an emergency, however, we do want to make sure that all of our students are safe and secure. We know this last minute change is surprising but it is in response to new information. All afternoon activities and games have also been cancelled.”

A group with signs saying “We Stand with Eli” held a rally of about a dozen people outside Richard Mann Elementary School Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the rally said they were only there in support of the child involved in the incident and simply wished to share their concerns with the district.

Several of those who attended were with the group Moms for Liberty. One member, Summer O’Brian, told The Times “We are just in support of the child and his right to an education, and his right to be seen and taken care of as an autistic student.” Commenting on the altercation earlier in the week, she added “De-escalation policies need to be put in place for situations like that.”

Prior to the protest, the District posted a sign outside the Middle School building stating: “Individuals entering school property to protest or participate in a rally are NOT permitted on district property and are subject to arrest. Loitering on school district property is prohibited.”

Students returned to classes at all schools as usual on Thursday, September 16. 

Parts of this story were shared by our news partner, 13WHAM

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