CASS COUNTY — A Cass County parent is outraged after she says her seven-year-old son was denied school bus transportation because he did not have a face mask and the school would not provide him one.
Around 2:45 p.m. Monday, Jessica Ballenger said she received a phone call from her son’s school, Lewis Cass Elementary, telling her that she had to pick him up because he was not allowed to ride the school bus home. Ballenger was shocked. When she asked why, the school responded, "He didn't have a face mask."
"I was like, what in the world is going on?" Ballenger said.
Monday morning Ballenger sent her second-grader, Dawson, to school with a face mask, as required by the district to ride the school bus.
“He had a mask throughout the day and it eventually broke, like seven-year-olds break things,” Ballenger said. “So, he went to get on the bus and he was told, no, he couldn’t ride the bus because he didn’t have a mask.”
Because he no longer had a mask, Ballenger said Dawson was denied a ride home.
“He was upset,” she said. “He was like, wait, I can’t go home? Being seven, you don’t want to be told you can’t go home.”
Ballenger works until 5:00 p.m., so she called her husband, who had to leave work instead to pick up their son.
“I’m kind of outraged as a parent,” Ballenger said. “It’s just, it made me upset because what if a parent couldn’t have transportation and had to pick up their kids or take them to school? What if low-income students couldn’t provide their masks?”
In a monthly newsletter, the district stated they have handed out more than 15,000 masks since August and will not be providing any more. If a student doesn’t have a mask, they will not be able to ride the bus. Ballenger worries about this new policy and its impact on families. She hopes the district will reconsider.
WRTV requested an interview with the school district and was told we could only speak with the superintendent, who is out of the office all week. We emailed him anyway Wednesday morning requesting an interview and have not received any response. We will update this story if anything changes.