A student was suspended for carrying his classmate to the nurse’s office during an asthma attack.
Public schools are apparently having a hard time figuring out how to handle asthmatic students. Last week, a middle school girl was suspended for offering her inhaler to a friend who was struggling to breathe in gym class. This week, a Texas eighth grader has been suspended for leaving class to carry a girl to the nurse’s office while she was having an asthma attack.
According to NBC11, Gateway Middle School student Anthony Ruelas was sitting in class when a fellow student began coughing and wheezing. The teacher asked the class to remain calm and emailed the school nurse, but minutes ticked by waiting for a response and nothing was being done to help the suffering student. According to the teacher, the girl was struggling to breathe so much that she fell out of her chair, and that’s when Ruelas stepped in and carried her to the nurse’s office himself.
Here’s the suspension referral his teacher wrote recounting the events:
“During 5th period another student complained that she couldn’t breathe and was having an asthma attack. As I waited for a response from the nurse the student fell out of her chair to the floor. Anthony proceeded to go over and pick her up, saying ‘f—k that we ain’t got time to wait for no email from the nurse.’ He walks out of class and carries the other student to the nurse.”
Sounds like a hero, right? Apparently not. Ruelas was slapped with a two-day suspension for his foul language and for “leaving the classroom without permission.” To add insult to injury, Ruelas’ mom, Mandy Cortes, says the school actually called her on the first day of his suspension to ask why he wasn’t in class, and she had to remind them that her son was suspended. She adds, “I don’t think he should have used that language, but as far as getting suspended for walking out of class, he could have saved her life.”
Gateway Middle School is an alternative school for students with disciplinary issues, which could help explain their incredibly strict response. Still, this seems like a situation where it would have been better to praise Ruelas for what he did right, rather than penalizing him for helping a classmate or saying “fuck that,” which, if we’re being honest, is the response most of us would have in that situation. I mean, why the hell is a teacher sitting there waiting for an email while a student is falling out of her chair and gasping for breath?
According to the CDC, there are about 6.8 million children in the U.S. living with asthma, and the consequences are serious. Per the most recent data, there were 3,630 asthma-related deaths in 2013 — the year the information was gathered — and 1.8 million people ended up hospitalized for complications related to asthma. A kid falling out of her chair because she can’t breathe is serious, and regardless of Ruelas’ past “disciplinary issues,” he shouldn’t be punished for essentially doing the right thing.