ACUSD

(NOTE: THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED AT 4:00 P.M. ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 12 WITH MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE ALTERCATION AND A STATEMENT FROM THE SUTTER CREEK POLICE DEPARTMENT)

An altercation between a parent of a student and staff members at Sutter Creek Elementary School over the wearing of a face covering marred the first day of the 2021-2022 school year in the Amador County Unified School District on Wednesday, August 11.

In a special meeting on August 4, the Amador County Public Schools Board of Trustees made the controversial decision to mandate mask wearing this school year for all except those with a doctor’s exemption.

Although an official police report had not been received as of the Ledger Dispatch’s press deadline on Thursday, the altercation that took place at Sutter Creek Elementary on the first day of school was allegedly the result of a parent being unhappy with their child wearing a mask when the parent picked them up from school and then confronting school staff members about it. 

The parent reportedly verbally assaulted the principal and when a male teacher stepped in, the altercation turned physical, resulting in injuries to the teacher, according to ACUSD Superintendent Dr. Torie Gibson. The teacher involved in the physical altercation was treated at the hospital and released Wednesday night, Gibson said.

It is not known at this time if the student of the parent involved in the altercation had a doctor's exemption to not wear a mask or not.

Gibson, serving her first year as ACUSD's Superintendent, addressed the incident in a letter to the community on Thursday, August 12:

“It is with disappointment that I report an incident that occurred on one of our school campuses (Wednesday) after school. As the first day of school comes and goes, there are always hiccups along the way, especially during this trying time. Unfortunately, a parent took it upon himself to verbally assault a principal that led to a serious physical altercation between him and a teacher as the teacher intended to protect the principal.

“If I ask nothing more of you this school year it is this. Take a breath, pause, listen and walk away if necessary. Assaulting a staff member will never be tolerated on any school campus and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Remember, we are not the ones making the rules/mandates, we are the ones required to follow/enforce them if we want to keep our doors open and students at school five days a week. Our staff have worked tirelessly to create the best possible school year for our students. They come early, stay late, and dedicate their lives to supporting each person as they walk in our doors. We have two goals this school year: (1) to keep all students and staff safe, and (2) to keep our doors open! It is truly that simple.

“I beg that we do our best to set all feelings aside and look at what is best for students. We know emotions are high, and conversations are intense. We must promote and support school environments that are compassionate and sympathetic. I encourage you to connect with someone in our school community you feel comfortable confiding in to create a safe place to vent and obtain clarification as needed. The mandates are forever changing so understanding current requirements is critical. Staff will support you and listen at all times when communication is appropriate.

“My door is always open if needed. Please reach out any time! We are in this together and will continue to have a far better school year than previously if we work collaboratively with our intent set on student success. Thank you for your understanding and support!”

UPDATE AT 4:00 P.M. ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 12 — A STATEMENT FROM THE SUTTER CREEK POLICE DEPARTMENT:

In a press release posted Thursday afternoon, the Sutter Creek Police Department said the matter is being investigated and the findings will be forwarded to the Amador County District Attorney’s Office for review and if appropriate, criminal prosecution.

Anyone who may have witnessed the event should call the Sutter Creek Police Department at (209) 267-5646.

This is a developing story that will be updated as more information becomes available. Check for updates in the online version of this story at ledger.news and in next week’s Ledger Dispatch print edition.