HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — With roughly a month to go before the state’s mask mandate could be lifted, those who do not want to wear them are refusing to back down.
Among them are Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz and his girlfriend, Amber Miller, who have pulled Ortiz’s two sons from in-person learning because they do not want to wear face masks in class.
In a video posted to Instagram, Miller can be seen bringing the boys to their Ocean View School District school with a document claiming a religious freedom exemption from state and local mask mandates.
The boys are shown walking into the gates of the campus without masks, but Miller said in the video that the principal called her 30 minutes later to pick the boys up for refusing to wear masks.
The couple are now rallying supporters to “fight for their rights.”
“I will no longer allow this tyranny,” she said in the video. “The mental health of your children is so much more important than following these guidelines. This is a mandate, I’m telling you right now, a mandate is a strong suggestion not a law.”
Miller said the principal told her the school would set up remote learning for Ortiz’s sons so they do not fall behind, an option the district said was available for all students unwilling to wear face masks.
“In line with the current guidance from the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency, Ocean View School District requires staff and students to wear masks on our school campuses,” Ocean View School District Superintendent Dr. Carol Hansen, said in a statement. “If a student is unwilling to wear a mask, they may attend our Virtual Academy.”
School board members said that whether parents are former mixed martial arts fighters or a current elected leader, there would be no preferential treatment.
“Celebrity does not exempt you from following the rules,” Gina Clayton-Tarvin, school board clerk, said. “That’s really what it’s about.”
“It is critical that we follow protocols to ensure the safety of our community, our school and our staff members,” Patricia Singer, school board president, said. “Because of this, if students refuse to wear a mask, it’s very simple: you need to then go ahead and participate in our virtual academy.”
Ortiz is well-known for his anti-mask views, refusing to wear them at city council meetings, surviving an attempt to oust him as mayor pro tem and attending a food distribution event where he was caught on camera confronting a person who asked why he was not wearing a face mask.
CBS Los Angeles reached out to Ortiz, but did not immediately hear back.