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This one is embarrassing.  Wyoming and Texas, both states I appreciate very much, are free states.  I’d never thought I’d have to make that distinction—between statist and free states–but circa 2021, here we are.  But Texas has Austin, and Wyoming has Laramie–Wyoming has Jackson Hole too, but that’s another story–the home of the University of Wyoming, which if not exactly as woke-insane as many universities, is in the running. And of course, such infection spreads to the surrounding community, as Fox News reports:

A 16-year-old Wyoming student recounted on ‘Fox & Friends First’ Tuesday her recent arrest at school over her refusal to wear a mask on school grounds.

Grace Smith, a Laramie High School junior and her father, Andrew Smith, explained her suspension and trespassing arrest. Smith said she had been suspended multiple times for ‘continued willful disobedience.’

‘They gave me a second $500 citation for trespassing after my suspension, and then proceeded to arrest me after putting the school in lockdown for an hour and a half,’ she said.

Smith said that she’s faced three separate two-day suspensions over refusing to mask up and received $1,000 in trespassing fines for refusing to leave the campus, saying that she had a right to be on school grounds to continue her education.

Smith is an honors student, has a lead role in the school play, and is an athlete.  In other words, not exactly the kind of student one would want to exclude from school, however, exactly the kind of student insecure “educators” would find threatening.  Sad to say, but honors students are often more intelligent, if not as experienced, than many teachers and administrators.  Many of those “educators” don’t take well to that.

I wanted to go back to class just so I could learn, I never thought they would actually arrest me. Honestly, it really surprised me to see them put me in cuffs and take me to jail,’ she said.

The Laramie Boomerang provides additional details:

Laramie High School was locked down for about 90 minutes Thursday morning during a showdown of wills between school administration and a 16-year-old junior who was arrested and removed from the school in handcuffs.

Locked down?!  More on this shortly, but boy, those brave adults really showed that 16 year-old girl who’s in charge, didn’t they?

Grace Smith returned to LHS on Thursday morning after serving two consecutive two-day suspensions for not complying with Albany County School District #1’s mask mandate, which says anyone inside a district building must have his or her face covered. The rule, brought on by an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, was put in place last month and will be reviewed by the school board next week, ahead of a scheduled Oct. 15 sunset.

Until then, Smith said she believes the mandate violates her constitutional rights and that she won’t wear a mask. As a result, she has been warned by LHS administration and faces two days of disciplinary suspension and a misdemeanor trespassing citation for every time she’s in the building and declines to mask up.

The first time she was suspended, ‘I just left,’ Smith said. ‘Then, after talking with our attorney, we decided to push it, so on Tuesday I didn’t (leave) and took the citation for $500 and then left.’

By not leaving, she was ticketed by the Laramie Police Department for trespassing. After serving a two-day suspension, she returned Thursday and again was ticketed for trespassing.

When she still refused to leave the school, saying she has a right to be there, she was arrested. A pair of LPD officers had Smith put her hands in front of her, placed her in handcuffs and transported her to the police station in downtown Laramie, where Smith was released. The episode was captured on video by Smith on her phone and shows the interactions were calm and respectful on all sides.

Handcuffing in the front is significant.  More on that too, in a moment.

While she knew another $500 citation was coming her way, Smith said she was surprised the incident evolved to include a schoolwide lockdown and her arrest, especially as she wasn’t making a scene, wasn’t yelling and had made no threatening comments or actions.

‘They told me they were going to do that,’ she said about the time leading up to her arrest. ‘I was surprised they followed through. They came up to me probably 20 minutes before I was arrested and said that if you continue to not leave, we will arrest you.’

Sadly, this is probably not surprising:

That also was a departure from an early conversation the Smith family had with Laramie police about what would happen if Grace continues to show up to school and not mask up, said Andy Smith, Grace’s father.

‘They told us how this was going to play out before it happened,’ he said. ‘They all said they were not going to arrest kids. But she was taken into custody, handcuffed and brought down to the detention center.’

What about the “lockdown?”

In a short statement, the school district acknowledged the ‘brief lockdown,’ which was done in response to a ‘student disciplinary disturbance’ at the main office of the school.

Sean O’Sullivan, a spokesman for the school district, said principals across the district were in one location for a weekly meeting at the time and that nobody was hurt.

‘Everyone is safe,’ he said. ‘That’s the big key right now.’

The statement also says the lockdown wasn’t done because of any specific threat of violence or potential for harm.

‘The lockdown was issued in order to prevent further interruptions to academic learning,’ the statement says.

Riiiight…

When asked about how many suspensions have been handed down because of students not wearing masks, O’Sullivan declined to answer, citing the statement, which says that ‘the school district does not comment on student discipline matters.’

Bullshit.  Schools can’t talk about individual cases, but they can provide statistics about such things, which is public information—and they know that.  That’s particularly so in matters of intense public interest like this.  What’s the most likely reason they refused?  Smith is the only student they’ve ever treated that way for that reason.  Their embarrassment and refusal to admit the truth indicates they know it was wrong, and hopefully, are still capable of feeling at least a little shame.

As for any “disturbance” at the school, Grace said there was none. She was calm and quiet, as were school officials, and that for the most part she just sat in the office.

Smith has lost friends:

‘It’s pretty likely some will hold (the lockdown) against me, too, but I would never purposely try to hurt anybody,’ she said. [skip]

‘It’s because I’m growing up in a country where I’m supposed to have my God-given rights to protect, and they’re being taken away,’ she said. ‘Everybody has the freedom to wear a mask if they choose, but I believe everybody also has the right to not wear a mask if they choose.’

It’s that kind of informed, moral stance, expressed better than many adults could, that would be threatening to many “educators.”  That’s why not every teacher is suited to teaching advanced placement/gifted and talented kids; they’re different.

 ‘I get cussed out a lot,’ she said. ‘People have called me mean names. Nobody has physically harmed me, but some of my best friends now won’t talk to me.’

She also said the bullying doesn’t just come from students.

‘The discrimination from the teachers is just absurd,’ Grace said. ‘I had one teacher who tried to force a mask onto my face.’

Which, depending on the exact circumstances, could constitute assault.

Analysis:

Yes, there are sane people in Wyoming; most are, in fact.

This kind of ridiculous and overly aggressive treatment of students is relatively rare in Wyoming, where few businesses require masks and few Wyomingites wear them. We had relatives visit from Illinois last summer.  They were masked–for about a day, then, to their obvious relief, the masks came off.  Likewise, few schools require such panicky measures and masks are uncommon.  More importantly, most school principals and teachers don’t involve the police in daily disciplinary matters because they are not only professionals but adults, and they know how to deal with kids, particularly very smart kids who are capable of reasoning.  They know the difference between misbehavior and crimes.

What’s that you say?  The school had no choice?  The police had no choice?

I somehow suspect you might be thinking a bit differently were Grace Smith your daughter.

Were I a principal—and this is probably why I was not and never would be—I certainly wouldn’t call the police and have Grace arrested.  If she refused to wear a mask, I would call her parents and ask them to pick her up.  There appears to be no mention this was done at any point in this continuing train wreck.  Failing that, I would prepare a place for Grace away from others—this whole thing is about nothing other than a very sincere concern for public health, right?—and arrange for her teachers to provide lessons.  After all, this was only a temporary mask mandate, so what would be the harm in that?  Calling the police and demanding the arrest of a non-violent, non-malicious student like Grace—there is no known evidence she was anything but polite and showed appropriate deference—is not only a stupid PR move, but morally and professionally indefensible.

As I’m sure regular readers know, I am not in any way lax on school discipline.  It’s any principal’s primary duty and one too many principals fail to fulfill.  If schools don’t maintain discipline, little or no learning is going to happen.  It’s also easy to discern the difference between kids who are criminals, dangerous and disruptive, and kids like Grace who are politely making a valid point, which brings up the issue of the lockdown.

Everything I’ve been able to find on this matter suggests Grace, in saying she quietly sat in the office, waiting to be arrested, is true.  Remember, the school argued they had to lock down the school due to a “student disciplinary disturbance at the main office of the school.”   And thank goodness they did, because “everyone is safe; that’s the big key right now.”

Except there is no evidence whatever Grace ever represented the slightest threat to anyone, and no evidence she was causing a disturbance that in any way disrupted learning and/or would have caused a rational adult to lock down–actually disrupt–an entire school.  What she did gave school authorities license to be butt hurt.  Their choice, not hers. She, a very smart kid, appears to have inspired unease in some insecure “educators” who couldn’t deal with a polite and intelligent student making rational arguments that are being made around the nation.  So why did they do a 90 minute lockdown?  They were either acting emotionally, not rationally, or they wanted to do it to try to make Grace’s standing on her rights look somehow dangerous, and therefore, a lockdown was somehow necessary and justified.  Perhaps it was a combination of both.

But she was trespassing!  They couldn’t allow that!

Nonsense.  Expelling, arresting and removing dangerous, criminal juveniles is one thing.  That’s not what happened here.  Again, there is no reason Grace couldn’t have been in a “safe” place on campus doing her schoolwork.  Even barring that, what would have been the harm in simply allowing her to remain in the office?  I know: butt hurt.

And what about the police?  Officers do not handcuff people in front unless there is a medical reason normal handcuffing—behind the back—is impossible—unless…  Unless they really don’t consider the person they’re arresting a threat, and they’re a bit sheepish about making an arrest in the first place.  They may also have been making a show to keep the school authorities happy.

Actually, the police shouldn’t have arrested her at all. All police officers have discretion.  Based on the circumstances generally and of the moment, they can decide not to strictly enforce a law, in essence, erring on the side of greater individual liberty.  They can, legitimately, decline to arrest a student upon the demand of a school administrator.  Officers do not, of course, have leave to engage in negligence or to simply decline to enforce a law for no reason or solely political reasons.  In this case, however, they did have discretion, and chose not to use it.

Were I the officer involved, I would have escorted her out—unhandcuffed–and drove her home.  I would have chatted with her on the way, heard her out, congratulated her for her reasoned approach, but suggested ways to sort this out that wouldn’t cause the police to be called.  Then I’d have a chat with the Chief of Police and work out a policy that wouldn’t allow the arrest of kids who didn’t deserve to be arrested.  The same is true for trespassing tickets for kids like Grace.

By the way, any ticket is an arrest, it’s just more convenient not to have to take everyone into physical custody, which is manpower intensive, and not practically possible.

Sure, there are politics involved, but the police across the nation are going to have to decide if they’re going to be political public health storm troopers or law enforcement officers.  Are they going to harass and arrest honest citizens who think they have the right under the 4thAmendment to bodily integrity—they do–or are they going to pursue actual criminals, of which there is never any shortage?

Anthony Bouchard (L), Grace and her father
credit: Cowboy State Daily

Final Thoughts: Grace’s parents have withdrawn her from Laramie High School, but not before she had her say before the school board.  Do I know leftism is responsible for this overblown response?  Other than that this sort of reaction is the default for authoritarians, I don’t.  I do know much worse—actual disciplinary infractions–is handled every day across the nation by professional, actual educators, and no one is arrested or kicked out of school.  Hopefully the local courts will be adult and sort this out.  That would be the Wyoming norm, but there are obviously some butt hurt “educators” in Laramie, and they’ve already been caught lying.  It’s hard for such people to climb down.  I’ve no doubt Grace will do well educationally regardless.

As I said: embarrassing, but not for Grace and her family.