North Penn School District in Montgomery County, Pa. has issued an apology after a Pennfield Middle School teacher taped a mask to a student’s face. A photo of the event went viral and parents in the district are saying the teacher should be arrested and fired. As of Friday morning, the teacher and student had not been identified.
It is unclear if the teacher has been fired, and the school district released a statement saying they are investigating the incident and addressing the photo with the teacher.
They said, “An image taken in one of our classrooms last week and circulating on social media does not represent the universal values that the North Penn School District strives to instill in both our students and staff. After an immediate investigation, it was determined that while the incident was isolated and no malice was intended, the actions of the teacher were entirely inappropriate and unacceptable, no matter the context.”
A photo of the incident was originally posted in a Facebook group called North Penn Stronger Together, which is the name for a group of Republicans that lost the school board election back in November.
The Facebook photo showed the Pennfield Middle School teacher taping a mask onto a male student while he sat at his desk. According to the group, the teacher was identified as one of the special education teachers at the school, but that has not been confirmed.
They captioned the photo, “Pro-mask or anti-mask, I hope we can all agree that taping masks to children’s faces crosses the LINE. This was not a joke for the child or the parents.”
During a school board meeting on Thursday, many parents voiced their concerns about the photo and how their children are being treated in the school.
One parent said, “As parents and taxpayers, we deserve to know how this situation is being handled. Because as of now, we heard the teacher, who is a special education teacher, is not arrested for child abuse, nor fired.”
Another parent asked if any other teacher had taped a mask to students. He said, “I want to know — have there been any other teachers that have taped masks to kids?”
The mother of the Pennfield Middle School child has spoken out since the incident went viral. According to the parent, while she is unhappy that this happened to her son, she is more upset that a photo of him was posted on social media without her consent. She never wanted the mask taping to gain national attention and only allowed it to be shared with the “North Penn Stronger Together” group.
A statement from the mother was read during the school board meeting. It said, “Certain individuals felt compelled to take matters into their own hands, including contacting local authorities and disseminating this image of my son to various media outlets. While I appreciate parents and groups alike coming to our defense, as stated above, what this has evolved into is exactly what I wanted to avoid.”
Since the mask photo went viral, many people across the country have become outraged. Some critics have taken to Twitter to express their opinions.
One person tweeted, “Apparently yet another teacher taped a mask to a child’s face. Educators—-this is child abuse! Any educator that does this needs to be immediately removed and fired. They should NEVER be allowed around children!”
This is not the first time a teacher has taped a mask to a student in the United States. Back in September 2021, a Las Vegas substitute teacher taped a mask to a 9-year-old’s face. According to reports, the child forgot to put his mask back on after getting a drink of water and the teacher put him in front of the entire class and humiliated him.
It is unclear if that Las Vegas teacher was fired.