BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A lawsuit has been filed against the Berkeley County School District by a family who says their 9-year-old child was physically forced to put on a mask.
An attorney representing the family, Tom Fernandez, said they have tried to work with the district to resolve the issue prior to filing the lawsuit.
“This bus driver was willing to use physical force to ensure that a 9-year-old boy wore a mask on the bus to school,” said Fernandez.
That is why his client, Meranda Durham, decided to file a lawsuit on behalf of her son.
There is a video of the incident, but the Berkeley County School District has not given them a copy. However, Fernandez said he and the parents were allowed to watch that video.
“What I saw was absolutely no exaggeration on the parent’s part, no exaggeration on the boy’s part, and to me, personally, very disturbing,” said Fernandez. “The bus driver physically reached out and grabbed him on the arm and held him. My client, this 9-year-old boy, described it as a hard, firm grasp that hurt.”
Fernandez went on to say, “he says if you come up to the bus stop again without a mask you’re going back home. And the bus driver reached for a box of masks, handed it to the boy, and he went to the seat and cried the rest of the way.”
Fernandez says when the incident happened on May 18th, the district was requiring masks on the bus.
“If the bus driver wanted to hand him a mask, fine, that’s acceptable. You know, the law said that children still had to wear masks. I don’t agree with it, on school buses. But to use physical force to grab this young man without his consent to make sure he wears a mask, that’s nothing short of assault and battery.”
Fernandez says the family wants an apology from the district.
The lawsuit claims gross negligence, assault, battery, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy. They are asking the courts for financial compensation.
We reached out to the Berkeley County School District; a spokesperson told us they do not comment on lawsuits.
The district currently has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.