A Wyoming high school student who said she refused to wear a mask on several occasions in defiance of a district mandate was arrested for trespassing and caused a brief lockdown, police and school officials said.
Grace Smith, a 16-year-old junior at Laramie High School, was put in handcuffs Thursday after serving two consecutive two-day suspensions at the school for violating the district’s mask mandate, the Laramie Boomerang reported.
Smith, who believes the rule put in place last month violates her constitutional rights, had been warned by administrators she faced two days of suspension and a misdemeanor trespassing citation every time she balked at wearing a face covering.
“I just left,” Smith told the newspaper of what she did after her first suspension. “Then, after talking to our attorney, we decided to push it, so on Tuesday I didn’t [leave] and took the citation for $500 and left.”
Smith then returned Thursday, believing she had a right to be in the school, and was again ticketed for trespassing. She was put in handcuffs after refusing to leave Laramie High. She was later released from a police station in downtime Laramie, the newspaper reported.
Video posted on YouTube shows an officer asking if the teen was “still refusing to leave” after receiving the citation early Thursday. The cop then said he was taking her into custody for trespassing, the clip shows.
The footage shows the honors student in cuffs with two officers standing nearby. Grace said she was expecting another $500 ticket, but didn’t think the standoff would lead to a school-wide lockdown.
“I was surprised they followed through,” Grace told the Laramie Boomerang. “They came up to me probably 20 minutes before I was arrested and said that if you continue to not leave, we will arrest you.”
Grace’s father, Andy Smith, said school officials had previously said they were “not going to arrest kids” who defied the mask mandate, according to the report.
“But she was taken into custody, handcuffed and brought down to the detention center,” her father told the Laramie Boomerang.
A spokesman for Laramie police told The Post Monday the teen had been arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave school grounds. Grace was initially ticketed and then put in handcuffs, spokesman Steve Morgan said, adding that it was not the first time she had been recently ticketed.
“The school district called because they had a student who was told to leave the premises and wouldn’t leave,” Morgan said. “After further refusing to leave, she was arrested for trespassing.”
Albany County School District said in a statement a brief lockdown occurred at the school following a “student disciplinary disturbance” at the main office.
“All students are safe,” the district said Thursday. “The lockdown was issued in order to prevent further interruptions to academic learning.”
The district’s mask mandate, which was approved on Sept. 8, is set to expire on Oct. 15, but its board of trustees will revisit the policy during a meeting Wednesday, the Laramie Boomerang reported.
Grace, meanwhile, shot a video with her father and state Sen. Anthony Bouchard detailing why she stood up against the order.
“I’ve had six days issued of out-of-school suspension that comes from three, separate two-day suspensions,” she said. “I have $1,000 worth of trespassing fines from our police department for not complying and getting suspended and then refusing to leave school property because I had the right to education.”
Grace said the policy made her “feel unwanted” while flanked by Bouchard and her father, who claims district officials have denied his and his daughter’s constitutional rights as a Wyoming resident to make their own health care choices.
“It makes me angry and it makes me so sad that I had to be the one to fight this,” Grace said. “I cannot imagine how every single other parent, child and future parent and future children feel about all of this. It’s disgusting to see how much I have to fight for the rest of my country.”