By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Laramie teen who was arrested for refusing to comply with a facemask mandate at Laramie High School does not regret her decision last week to withdraw from the high school.
Grace Smith officially withdrew from Laramie High School following her arrest on Oct. 7 on a charge of trespassing stemming from her refusal to comply with the school’s mandate for the use of facemasks.
“I know that this fight is not only about me, so I’m confident in my decision,” Grace told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “I also do not regret any decision leading up to this one for the same reason.”
As a result of the incident, Grace recently received a one-year scholarship to an online school and she plans on attending the school, father Andy Smith told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.
Albany County School District No. 1, which includes Laramie High, adopted a requirement for the use of facemasks in September. The requirement was extended until mid-November by school board members during the same meeting that saw Grace announce her plans to withdraw from the school.
“I was unlawfully arrested from my own school,” Grace told the board. “You have bestowed an egregious amount of power upon yourselves. You have instilled a sense of false hope in each parent that has given you the privilege of educating their child.”
Despite the situation, Andy Smith said that Grace was not ruling out going back to Laramie High, possibly for her senior year of high school.
“The decision to leave was not an easy one as it meant giving up the things that she loved,” Andy Smith told Cowboy State Daily. “She is also alone now and already misses friends.”
Grace went into custody willingly and was polite with officers when arrested, videos taken and shared by her father show. The teen was also fined $1,000 for trespassing.
Grace told board members they were infringing on Albany County students’ constitutional rights by forcing them to wear masks in school.
She did note that she wasn’t arguing about whether or not masks were effective, but about the choice to wear one.
“High school is hard enough already. Why are we making it harder?” she said.
Andy Smith told Cowboy State Politics that initially when the mandate was implemented in September, the school district was going to allow students to obtain exemption forms, but Superintendent Jubal Yennie ultimately decided to allow exemptions under eight criteria, none of which Grace met.