Alsea superintendent: Masks letter to folks ‘out of context’

A letter to parents explained how to use masks to ask about ADA accommodation

by: Jenny Young, KOIN 6 news agents

Posted: Aug 17, 2021 / 9:54 PM PDTUpdated: Aug 17, 2021 / 10:07 pm PDT

Students wear masks in class during pandemic 2021 (Nexstar)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Alsea School District Manager Marc Thielman sent a letter to my parents in the district with information about the coming school year. But the letter, posted on the district’s website, caught the attention and apparent anger of Governor Kate Brown.

Thielman told KOIN 6 News that many parents have reached out to him directly because students and teachers wear masks in school. Many parents are against the idea, he said.

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“We had a lot more parents who said, from ‘When there are no options to withdraw my child’ to ‘What options do I have?’ and as superintendent I have to respond, ”he said on Tuesday evening. “I think I had the opportunity to say nothing at all and just make the parents think there aren’t any, but there are.”

Thielman outlined a section on the OHA rule for schools and masks that schools must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He informed the families that under the ADA, anyone can request a plan of housing related to school or workplace requirements.

In her open letter to school councils and school supervisory authorities Brown leaders who challenge the mask Mandate.

“I know of a district manager who sent a letter to the parents asking them to apply for housing for their child under the Americans with Disabilities Act to avoid masking requirements. I find it deeply appalling that any education leader – who is supposed to be an example to our students – would send such a callous and offensive message to Oregon parents and children with disabilities, ”the governor wrote.

When asked if he would work out a plan to cheat the system, Thielman said he doesn’t.

“I don’t remember saying that in my letter. I did not encourage students to lie in this letter, ”he said. “The thing is when parents say, ‘What are the options?’ I’ll give them the options. “

In a statement on KOIN 6 News. Tom Stenson, associate legal director for Disability Rights Oregonsaid:

“The ADA and the Rehabilitation Act are laws that protect people with disabilities. Among other things, they ensure that pupils with disabilities go to school safely and receive training that meets their needs. No matter what a school principal says, students who do not have disabilities cannot and are not entitled to a Section 504 plan. When people without disabilities abuse anti-discrimination laws and encourage others to falsely seek protection, they are putting the rights of students with disabilities at risk. “

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Thielman also said the message was taken out of context and that neither Governor Brown nor the Oregon Department of Education called to find out the context. Thielman said the students won’t just wear masks in his Benton County, They have also implemented other levels of protection against COVID.

“It’s frustrating for me because they only do that Alsea school district with districts that either oppose the mandate or do not want to fully implement it, and I did not tell the parents that in the communication or letter to which it relates, ”said Thielman.

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