An asthma attack was at the core of the suspension of a 15-year-old Killeen, Texas middle school student who simply was trying to assist his friend after he noticed that she was in respiratory distress.
Anthony Ruelas said that his classmate had been “wheezing and gagging for three minutes” as his teacher instructed other students in the classroom to remain calm while she emailed the school nurse about the situation and waited for a reply. When the wheezing student fell out of her chair as a result of the attack, Ruelas sprang into action. He told the teacher, “We ain’t got time to wait for no email from the nurse,” picked up his friend, and carried her to the nurse’s office himself.
According to KCEN, Ruelas said that he decided not to wait and to assist the student himself because he knew that she “needed help.” Apparently, according to administrators at Gateway Middle School, this constituted him breaking the rules, and was described as him just walking out of his class. For the record, this is not the first time that Ruelas has been suspended.
When asked about how he felt about being suspended after trying render assistance to his friend during her asthma attack, he expressed disbelief.
“I was like what? I’m suspended for this? Like, I was trying to help her.”
Ruelas’ mother, Mandy Cortes, was initially upset at her son over the suspension as school officials had only informed her that he had walked out of class and did not provide specifics as to the reason. Also, at the time, on questioning her son, he did not try to defend himself and simply told her to “forget it,” but she could tell that he was upset.
In the teacher’s referral note to administrators, she confirmed that the student who Ruelas assisted did indeed complain that she was having an asthma attack and could not breathe. She further confirmed that the student fell out of her chair while she was waiting for an email reply from the school nurse. The teacher further added that at that time Ruelas picked the student up and said, “f**k that, we ain’t got time to wait for no email from the nurse.” She concluded that he walked out of class and carried the girl to the nurse’s office.
Ruelas acknowledges that he broke the rules, but insists that the girl needed help during her asthma attack, and now that his mother has all of the facts, she agrees with his assessment of the situation. Cortes also believes that her son may have saved the girl’s life.
John Craft, superintendent of the Killeen Independent School District, issued a written statement that his office was unable to release official details concerning the incident due to privacy laws. He did concede, however, that “The Killeen ISD maintains the safety of our students, staff and campuses as a priority and applauds the efforts of students who act in good faith to assist others in times of need.”
Ruelas’ suspension is scheduled to last for two days, but he maintains that if he had to do it over again he would do the same thing—he would help his friend. He also stated that the student who had the asthma attack had texted him to let him know that she was okay and to thank him for his efforts.
Cortes believes that her son has not been treated fairly and that he is being punished for doing the right thing. She is now considering homeschooling him rather than allowing him to return to the classroom.
WSB TV reports that the school district is now investigating the matter.
[AP Photo/Seth Wenig]