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Dad of disabled girl accuses school of face mask incident

two face masks
two face masks Image credit: cnet.com

Teachers at a school in Florida are being investigated after a story surfaced on social media implying they tied a face mask on a disabled pupil.

Jeffrey Steel claims his 7-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome and is nonverbal came home distressed from school on 7 October after teachers allegedly fastened a mask over her mouth making it difficult to breathe.

After posting the incident on social media the story went viral and Steel appeared on Fox News as well as launching a crowdfunding page on the Christian fundraiser website GiveSendGo.

But after police launched an investigation it appeared the story may have been made up by the father.

A report in Florida Today said: “As witnessed by multiple teachers, school aides, bus drivers, and school administration staff, at no time, while having the mask tied on, did (Sofia) ever exhibit any signs of distress, discomfort, difficulty breathing, or any other health concerns,”

The statement was supported by a video showing the girl was quite contented wearing a mask and only showed signs of distress when she was told she had to remove it.

A police officer wrote: “On at least one occasion, Sofia was observed on video placing the mask on herself; on another, her teacher told police, she ’threw a temper tantrum’ when she was not allowed to wear her mask.”

The Steels provided photos showing their daughter in distress, but further investigation suggests they were taken after the alleged incidents.

When Mr Steel was confronted by the police he admitted the photos were taken after the alleged incident because his wife had lost her phone which contained the “real” evidence.

Following the case a percentage of social media users have put pressure on politicians who used the story to back their anti-mask campaigns to apologise and amend their statements.

The most expensive face mask in the world made of gold and diamonds costs $1.5m (£1.128m).