A group of parents from the Bay Area in California are livid after their children were expelled from a private school because they raised concerns with the school's coronavirus response. On March 13, officials in Santa Clara County ordered all public schools to close for three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
While other private schools in the area followed the guidance of county health officials, the Challenger School decided to remain open. The school's CEO, Hugh Gourgeon, emailed parents the next day informing them that the school would not be closing down.
"I recognize that, as of yesterday, public schools have closed in several states. I hear the requests asking for Challenger School to do the same, and I also hear the statements of gratitude for keeping our doors open," he wrote.
The decision did not sit well with many parents, who voiced their concerns on Facebook. Some parents asked the school to consider offering online classes, while others blasted Gourgeon for not thinking about the safety of students and staff members.
"Please show some responsibility for your teachers and students and close the schools. It's really risky for older teachers and grandparents of kids," one parent wrote.
The school was eventually forced to close down after county officials issued a shelter in place order.
Officials at the school were not happy that parents called them out, and decided that their children were no longer welcome at the private school. Challenger Executive Director Dave Mounteer reached out to parents and informed them that their kids would not be allowed back when the school reopens.
"[Dave] said based on your comment, we are not satisfied, and you are not satisfied with Challenger, so we are going to unenroll your kids immediately," one parent told KNTV. "They automatically unenrolled our kids, just because of the comment."
At least five parents said their kids have been kicked out, while one parent estimates that at least 20 other parents made similar comments.
"I was devastated," a parent second said. "I feel the school is just retaliating against us."
Another parent is trying to figure out how they can explain this to their young child.
"I couldn't sleep after this. I felt like 'what did I do' to push my children out of school," they said. "Now, I have to explain to them why they need to go to a new school in the middle of the school year and that they can't all go back to their friends."
School officials have not commented on the matter.
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