Lowell parents threatened with arrest, child custody loss during mask dispute

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the first name of the state trooper involved. Our apologies to State Trooper Nathan Jensen, who works out of the Westminster barracks in Windham County.)

By Guy Page

Two Lowell Graded School parents demanding their second-grade daughter be taught in the classroom without a mask were warned by a state trooper Thursday, Nov. 4 to take her home or risk arrest for trespass or loss of custody of their child. 

The live Facebook video was recorded by the girl’s father, Andre “Mike” Desautels. In March, a Vermont judge sided with Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and ordered Desautels to require his employees to wear masks. 

As the video opens, Desautels explains he and wife Amy have a note from a doctor exempting his daughter from wearing a mask. However, the parents have been told that a doctor’s note isn’t enough and that the school needs to see a formal medical diagnosis in order to develop a 504 plan. Such plans are intended to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives the necessary accommodations.

“We did not agree to this as she did not need any special accommodations from anyone,” Amy Desautels explained via social media. “We had provided the doctor’s note which is what was stated on the NCSU guidelines for what they required and it did not specify what needed to be on the note.”

As seen on the video, Vermont State Trooper Andrew Jensen talked briefly with the couple, took a phone call, and then returned and then politely but firmly gave them three options. 

“Your options are: Take your child, go home, fight this through the courts, through your lawyer, whatever,” Jensen said. “Option B: We escort your child out here, you refuse to take her home, and you refuse to leave. Therefore we place both of you under arrest for trespassing. Option C: you leave, but leave your child here, we contact DCF, possibly placing her in state custody for abandonment.”

“I cannot believe that you guys would get involved, especially because we have done everything required with our paperwork. And you’re going by what he (Castle) is telling you,” Desautels responded. He also said a child in Walden – another Northeast Kingdom town – is attending mask-free.

The school has the right to make the rules,” Jensen said.

“But we’re following the rules,” Desautels said. 

“But not exactly,” Jensen said. 

Given those options, the couple elected to take their child home that day. 

* * * * * *

Earlier in the day, Castle answered Vermont Daily Chronicle questions about school policies on masking. 

Chronicle: What are the options for parents who do not want their children to wear masks in school?

Castle: “A parent may obtain an exemption to having their child wear a mask if they have a certified diagnosis from a physician of a medical reason for not wearing a mask or from a physician or mental health provider for a psychological reason. The school would need to review the medical information within a formal IEP or 504 process to determine if the accommodation is necessary to ensure the child is able to access their education.”

Chronicle: Please describe the reasoning behind removing a child from school for not wearing a mask. 

Castle: “Schools that have established a mask requirement are doing so to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in the interest of public health for students and staff. Allowing staff or students without a legitimate exemption to not wear a mask would result in many individuals opting out and thus increasing the risk of transmission. A student’s non-compliance with a mask requirement is considered unsafe and in violation of school procedures.”

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39 replies »

  1. The photos remind me of images out of Australia and Canada. Now Vermont. The school superintendent and the trooper should be ashamed of themselves. This mask policy is child abuse and anyone helping enforce it should join in the resistance and submit to whatever the resulting penalty, including loss of a job for disobeying the order. Children are not at serious risk and they (the children) should not be sacrificed to the [false] suggestion that they are protecting their elders; that is, even if it were true that children put others at risk (not established), the adults should not subject the children to such mandates. Where is the courage? Vaccination requirements are next. We all must stand up to the mask mandates because more is coming. I applaud the parents. This is child abuse. More should resist the tyranny. What an outrage. The Vermont motto is Freedom and Unity.

    • I fully agree with you. Where are the healthy who are now being bossed around by the ignorant. If that is offensive, think about what it feels like for us who are on the other end of this knowing it’s a total farce and “law” enforcement doesn’t listen, governments don’t listen, they just listen to the narrative of the pharmaceutical titans.

  2. It makes me weep to read this story. That so many Vermonters are cooperating with the State’s tyrannical and wholly unscientific mask-edicts is a sad reflection of just how far Vermont has descended into a society of government-worshiping sycophants.

    I praise the Desautels for courageously standing-up to the state-sanctioned emotional and physical abuse of their child. Let’s hope Mike and Amy will be vindicated with a swift apology from the school and the police – both of whom clearly acted without any regard for the health and well-being of their daughter.

  3. God Bless this family for their stand… It may be time to move to a “Free State”… The Trooper was “Just following orders”… Shame of John Castle…Shame on Vermont’s government.

  4. Wait, so the school administrators get to review a medical diagnosis and/or a mental health diagnosis from a professional and then decide whether it’s legitimate? On what basis is this considered reasonable? A note from a licensed professional isn’t adequate?

    • This behavior by school officials and the police is not new. Parents have been accused, for decades, of being a danger to society when they legitimately complain to school boards about the treatment of their children. In Lowell, these parents resisting the mask requirements on their daughter, armed with a note from their doctor, as directed by NCSU guidelines, were threatened. Earlier this year, a Louden, VA father was arrested for protesting the rape of his daughter by a student who was moved to another school, only for the school board to try to cover up the circumstance and the student to do the same thing again. It’s outrageous.

      Twenty years ago, my neighbor’s daughter, who was participating in what is commonly called a ‘Trust Fall’ during class, ostensibly a ‘team building’ exercise, was allowed to fall to the floor when the teacher stepped away to his desk and left the students unsupervised – a prank gone bad. The girl hit the floor with her head, received a concussion, and wasn’t allowed to visit the school nurse when she became nauseated. My neighbor went to the next schoolboard meeting, waited patiently for his two minutes of public comment, politely voiced his concern with the circumstance and left the meeting. Unbeknownst to him, while he was waiting to speak, a teacher (acting as the meetings union representative) left the meeting, called the police, and expressed concern that my neighbor was armed with a gun during the meeting. My neighbor was confronted in the parking lot on his way home and found to be unarmed. The next morning, Vermont’s social services representatives showed up at my neighbor’s house to determine whether or not he was abusing his kids.
      Long story short – my neighbor and his family promptly left town. And who could blame them.

      While my wife and I served on our local school boards, our children, who were attending our public school, were occasionally subject to contrived difficulties by activist teachers. One teacher happened to be the same one who held the ‘Trust Fall’ referenced above a few years earlier.

      This sort of retribution occurred several times while our children were in the public school system from elementary school through to high school. While serving on the board, my wife, at one point, received as cease-and-desist threat from our local teacher’s union, via certified mail, when she discussed a pedagogic issue involving the coordination of math programs between 5th and 6th grade teachers – because one of our children happened to be in one of the classes.

      Suffice it to say, we managed and used the circumstances to teach our children real-life coping skills. They are doing just fine today. But we were school board directors who were familiar with the ins and outs of public-school governance. Most parents, like my former neighbor, have neither the time nor the inclination to fight these battles. And why should they?

  5. The parents failed to follow the rules. A doctor’s note is not enough. It’s spelled out clearly. They took video because they wanted to make a big scene and act like they are somehow “heroes” for doing so. Bringing their daughter into the mix is shameless. This is a public health issue. Their daughter could expose other kids to Covid, especially kids who are immune compromised. They are irresponsible and selfish.

    When I was young, my parents tried to send me to school without a measles vaccination. I was sent home. My parents argued that they had a right to decide if/when I was vaccinated because they thought the vaccine hadn’t been tested enough. Too bad, the school said. Get the kid vaccinated or they stay home. So I got a measles vaccine. Life went on!

    This isn’t new. This doesn’t make us a police state. This is a PUBLIC HEALTH issue. We’ve had them before: polio, smallpox, tuberculosis, measles. Tetanus. Rubella.

    Stop spreading lies told by opportunistic talk show potato heads who make a profit off of your paranoia. Wear a mask to protect OTHERS. Get vaccinated. Stop being SELFISH. Stop acting like children. GROW UP!

    • Rules that do not comport with the Constitution may be dismissed. Recall the landmark Brigham decision made by the Vermont Supreme Court:

      ““…in Vermont the right to education is so integral to our constitutional form of government, and its guarantees of political and civil rights, that any statutory framework that infringes upon the equal enjoyment of that right bears a commensurate heavy burden of justification. The State has not provided a persuasive rationale for the undisputed inequities in the current educational funding system. Accordingly, we conclude that the current system, which concededly denies equal educational opportunities, is constitutionally deficient.””

      Read it, then read it again. Then tell me that this school acted legally in denying this young girl equal access to a public education.

    • All those Illness you mention are are far more likely to kill or cripple than covid. It took almost ten yrs to develop a vaccine for polio, It prevented people from getting polio. It took less than a year to come up with a vaccine for covid, and what it appears it s next door to being worthless. What are you afraid of? It shouldn’t be the disease

    • If you get a tetanus or polio vaccination, you don’t get those diseases. This is not the case with the covid vaccinations. Break through cases are nothing more then vaccine failure. And the cdc itself states clearly that vaccinated and unvaccinated alike can get and transmit the virus. Unlike other vaccines, covid vaccines have not gone through enough testing to be considered safe. The process takes many years. The wet, gross germ infected masks that our children are wearing are child abuse and have absolutely no science behind them. Talk show potato heads, as you call them , may be making a profit but nothing like big pharma.

    • Thank you for your self-righteous moralistic lecture. You should be on the circuit with Castle. Remember to support your local police state. With officers like Jensen, I’m for defunding this kind of police work. He has no statutory authority to enforce a mask mandate and treat taxpayers like they are criminals. Taxpaying parents are hardly trespassers.

  6. 2A was created for such tyranny as this! Glad all of my children and grandchildren do not live in this state…

  7. It seems the Supt. has forgotten who he works for, the taxpayers. The schools need to make reasonable accommodations’ for students who can’t wear masks. I have heard of schools that only require masks in the hallways or when students leave their seats. Otherwise they need to provide a separate classroom and teacher for the unmasked or pay the child’s tuition to a private school. Refusing to educate a child is plain wrong. Sadly the tyranny will continue until the majority a parents take a stand.

    • Under current Vermont public school governance, the Superintendent doesn’t work for taxpayers. He or she is a member of a protected class of public-school monopoly employees governed by officials elected by the same people who work there. Remember, more than 40% of Vermont’s workforce is employed by the taxpayer subsidized government, healthcare, and education monopoly sectors. Even when the majority of school parents take a stand, established governance is on the side of the monopoly. The only way to avoid the conflict is to remove your children from the system, if you can afford to do so.

      But with education property taxes being the single most expensive cost of living for most Vermont families, having the discretionary income to afford private school or home schooling is limited. As Tennessee Earnie Ford sang out:

      You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
      Another day older and deeper in debt.
      Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go –
      I owe my soul to the company store.

  8. Only solution, RUN for & win seats on the School Board and dismiss the science-denying fools..There is exactly ONE study from Bangladesh or somewhere “proving” cloth masks “work”, all the rest are ambiguous at best or show NO benefit. Second solution? Home school the child which is probably better than indoctrination of Wokeness by brain-dead union hacks.

    • Masks are only the current straw to break the camel’s back. And running for school board, or any public office, is an exercise in futility given the structure of our public-school monopoly governance. The system is designed to promote conflict and avoid accountability. I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.

      There is, however, a hearing in Orleans Superior Court in Newport, Vt., being held later this week, Friday, November 12th, unless its postponed yet again, as it was last week. It is central to the recent court filings in Vitale v. Vermont, a lawsuit filed by parents seeking public money to send their children to independent schools, even though they live in districts that already provide public schools.

      This is currently the only game in town. Establishing a ‘free market’ in education is our saving grace.

  9. Wonder what Religious or Private Schools are doing in the area? masks are a personal issue and no business of the Board Of Education!

    • Unfortunately, many of the private schools, including religious ones (all of the catholic ones), are still requiring masks at all times, giving into the fear mongering of the state. While the religious private schools have far better curricula, they still are part of the hamster wheel in teaching children to be subservient followers no matter the actual science and data of the last two years. What we need is fearless leaders, but we have allowed our schools, both public and private, to be governed by those afraid to make a stand.

  10. Two years ago I was for the most part a supporter of law enforcement. Now a days I agree with blm. Cops are not your friends. They will tow the line for their benefits and pensions.

  11. What is it with Vermont? If you don’t bow to democrat tyrants the first thing they do is threaten your children, or use your children to threaten you. That stupid state cop should not have been at the school at all. There is NO mask that stops a virus, and the elusive “covid 19” is supposed to be a virus. Children are rarely affected by this phantom covid thing anyway. In the year or more that this scamdemic has been raging have masks worked? NO. So what is the purpose of masking other than to dehumanize and humiliate, which is what public school “teachers” and staff do best. And stay away from the killer “vaccines”. I just buried my brother in law after he was forced to take it or be refused cancer treatment. He died in agony with blood clots caused by the vaccine. The best thing you can do for your kids is keep them OUT of public schools and start showing up at town meetings to defund the schools and eliminate school boards. Then we can start fresh with NO democrat/liberal/marxist trash allowed near the kids.

  12. Reprinted….“My deputies will NOT enforce an executive order that I feel violates the constitutional liberties of citizens,” Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thompson continued. “I am not encouraging negligence, but I would like to reiterate that it is not the Sheriff’s duty to enforce health related mandates unless court ordered by a Judicial Official or the Legislature.”

    Police are operating on a thin line here and can be named in lawsuits…Common Law will wins every time.

    The State Police need to start working “for” the people and not for the Political hacks who run this “Masking” operation. They need to take a stand like Jimmy Thompson.

  13. We are moving toward living in a police state empowered by an administration that, without any hesitation, uses the Vermont Attorney General to fight a mask violation. That my fellow citizens is the definition of tyranny; “under an oppressive government using unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control upon its citizenry.” Not only threatening arrest but the aggravated threat of we will throw your child down the black hole of the DCF. TYRANNY over a mask? In our schools?

    As an aside, does the phrase “just following orders” ring a bell? It should, it was the claim of Nazi guards and Gestapo at the Nuremberg trials.

  14. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation….. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

  15. Seems to me that being forced to pay a tax for a sub-par education at a school you are not philosophically aligned with, that subsequently your children have been removed from, is an infringement of our Constitutional rights.

    When it became clear to us that we could not send our children to any of the schools available in Vermont for a myriad of reasons, we decided to homeschool our children this year to provide them with a safe, stable, organized, loving environment, conducive to learning. They love it and are thriving. If we can’t in good conscience send our children to the public school available to them, without compromising our values and beliefs and subjecting them to harmful policies and pseudoscience “health” protocols, how is it that we should continue to support said school system with our hard-earned wages in the form of a tax?

    Our country’s history is laden with ordinary people who became extraordinary by standing up against infringement of liberty, to shape and protect the freedoms we all have enjoyed and taken for granted for far too long, all while our government became a monopoly of monstrous proportions working tirelessly to usurp those freedoms, to secure their power and control under the pretense of our “safety” time and time again right in front of our eyes, and with our explicit permission and/or compliance. Well, for safety reasons, we cannot send our children to the government funded and controlled education centers, so neither should we have to send our money there.

  16. Taxpayer dollars pay for that State Police officer and for that school – and the parents protecting their child are the criminals?!! Where is the line in the sand Vermonters? This whole performance has nothing to do with a virus! Defund the schools – Defund the government.

  17. Unfortunately, the Desautels family has a target on their backs. With few options for a massless education, home-schooling (if possible) may be their option. That said, the State of Vermont’s Dept. of Ed. isn’t afraid to hassle home-school parents, regarding curriculum, sometimes requiring legal representation for resolution. Such is the state of things in the People’s Republic.
    That the School District made the decision to involve the VSP, and the Trooper’s phone call, (presumably to get instructions from above) indicate that planning was done prior by the school district. Actions like these will continue, unabated as the Districts and Supervisory Unions become more emboldened to follow the dogma.

  18. I’m a little confused by the wording in the article. It says “a Vermont judge sided with Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan and ordered Desautels to require his employees to wear masks.”
    Is it supposed to say the judge ordered Desautels to require his child to wear a mask? The Desautels are the parents, correct?

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