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April 13, 2023
An Arizona principal has claimed that after telling a student to quarantine following Covid-19 exposure, she was approached by three men, one carrying zip ties, threatening a citizen’s arrest.
Mesquite Elementary School principal Diane Vargo said the father of the boy that was told to quarantine arrived at the school and was “aggressive” with staff. He was then directed to the principal’s office, and two others in communication with the father later showed up, one of them carrying zip ties. “My door is open to talk to parents. But the way he did it was not OK,” she said, according to NBC News. “Bringing zip ties to a principal’s office, that’s not OK.”
The other two men did not have children at the school, Vargo said. The student in question, however, was with his father when she was confronted. “He sat right next to him, and he witnessed all of it. He saw the threats. He saw the aggressiveness. He saw the large zip ties,” she said. “He saw it all and I felt really, really bad for him.”
“[The father] was very upset and demanded that his son stay at school. And I said he can’t. We’re just following protocols. He had a phone in my face. He was telling me that there’s more people coming,” Vargo said. “Those two other men barged into my office and blocked my doorway, and one of the men had these large black zip ties in his hand, and the other man had a phone on me as well,” she added.
The elementary school earlier on Thursday contacted the father to confirm that his son and other students were exposed to a person who tested positive for coronavirus. “I tried to deescalate before all of that, but they were aggressive, and I felt threatened. I felt scared,” Vargo said.
The Pima County Health Department has said children must stay at home for seven days after a confirmed exposure to COVID-19. Students are allowed to return to school if they test negative for the virus five days into quarantine and if they have no symptoms for a week.
Vargo asked the men to leave her office during the confrontation, but they refused. She then called the police, but the men left by the time officers arrived. The principal added that the boy “witnessed all of that – the threats, the zip ties, the aggressiveness, the phones in my face, the demands.” Vargo acknowledged that these are challenging times and that she wants to work with the parents where possible.
“We all know that students do better when they’re at school. We all know that. But in order for us to remain open, we have to follow these guidelines,” she said. Vargo also thanked the community for support given to her after the event. “I have to say the community across the nation, man, has been so supportive, extremely supportive,” she said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE DAILY BEAST