By Corinne Murdock
Last Friday, a teenage student and her parents were arrested for trespassing as they advocated for her education. The family was attempting to negotiate their daughter’s forced quarantine with the school principal. According to the parents, Damien and Jennifer Majuta, their daughter was healthy and not proven to be infected. The semester had just begun the previous week.
Sahuarita Unified School District (SUSD) policy requires that individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 days or until they receive a negative test. Even with a negative test, students must quarantine at least 7 days. Walden Grove High School (WGHS) thereby prohibited the Majutas’ daughter from attending school. Contact tracing indicated that she’d potentially been exposed to an infected individual.
AZ Free News inquired with SUSD about their policies for mitigating learning loss, as well as providing for students who rely on in-person resources such as school meals. SUSD didn’t respond by press time.
Five other adults accompanied the Majutas to contest the apparently-healthy student’s quarantine. When the group of seven wouldn’t leave, Sahuarita Police Department (SPD) responded to the scene. SPD attempted to mediate the situation. Ultimately, they arrested the Majutas for trespassing at WGHS’s insistence. SPD published an account of the incident on Facebook.
Videos captured of the Majutas show them insisting to the officers that they’d broken no laws by bringing their daughter to school.
Jennifer Majuta insisted that trespassing doesn’t apply because her daughter is legally enrolled in the school, and that no laws exist concerning quarantining measures imposed by public schools. Jennifer Majuta pleaded with the officers to understand that their daughter would never get to go to school because of constant quarantines.
“There is no law. They have no justification to remove her from the school. She is legally enrolled in the school. If you want to remove my husband and I – we are her legal guardians, she is an underage minor – you can either arrest her with us, [or] you can leave her here, and we respect you, you can do whatever you need to do, but we will be filming it and we will go peacefully,” said Jennifer Majuta. “You guys are backing somebody – an entity – that is not even based in law.”
An SPD officer responded that the law empowers schools to send home students for any reason. He pleaded with the Majutas to not make them arrest their family. The officer asked if there was anything he could say or do to convince them to leave the campus. Daniel Majuta said that they could allow his daughter the right to receive her education. The officer said he had no control over that.
“The law is – they are asking you to leave, they are asking your daughter to leave,” said the officer.
Damien Majuta emphasized that the arrests needed to be done. He insisted that no other recourse existed. According to the Majutas, they’d attempted to speak with the district and school board on multiple occasions about COVID policy, to no avail.
“People throughout history have [had] to stand up to get things to change,” said Damien Majuta. “The optics are in our favor. The school district is going to get in a lot of trouble for this.”
SPD released the Majutas by citation after photographing and fingerprinting them.