Children with special needs, like Jideofor “Jedi” Oruh, require extra support. Jedi has autism. He’s 7. 

The D.C.-based student had a police officer called on him by a bus driver because he removed his mask, a district requirement due to COVID-19 precautions. His mother, brightbeam activist Chioma Oruh, took out her phone to catch the incident on video as she confronted the officer and the bus driver.  

WUSA-9 has more

On Friday, before the bus left her neighborhood, Oruh said she noticed that it had stopped. She went outside to check why it had pulled over, and she said the bus attendant told her that her youngest son, Jideofor or “Jedi,” kept taking off his mask.

She said the attendant told her that violated their protocol and asked her to take him off the bus — which Oruh refused to do.

She told the attendant and bus driver that she had a doctor’s note for both sons that she submitted on March 11. 

Jedi’s doctor wrote in the note, “he should not be excluded or sent home if he refuses to wear the mask as long as he remains symptom-free and has no known COVID contacts.”

A Well-Documented Pattern

Jedi is one of many students of color with special needs who have been traumatized by excessive punishment for “misbehavior” medical professionals say needs to be corrected in a non-punishing way. 

Discipline disparities have been researched for years. A 2019 paper by University of Illinois social work professor Kate M. Wegmann showed “that Black males were 95%(!) less likely than white males to receive verbal warnings directly from teachers, and Black students of both sexes were 84% less likely to have multiple warnings given to their parents.”

More Citizen Ed coverage on Wegmann’s paper here:

Black boys, just like any other group of students, respond better to mentors than excessive discipline:

There are examples of how to better handle discipline of students who violate school or district rules, like the Indiana principal who helped a student fix a bad haircut so he would take off his against-school-rules cap and get back to class without embarrassing himself in front of his friends.


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