MASTIC BEACH, L.I. — A Long Island high school student was arrested Thursday for showing up at school after being suspended earlier in the week for coming to class in person, in an apparent protest of remote learning.
The school district confirmed that 17-year-old William Floyd High School senior Maverick Stow was arrested for criminal trespassing for unlawfully entering school grounds.
"I value my education and my personal liberties more than the risk that might be incurred," he said about his decision to return to school.
Stow was immediately taken into custody by Suffolk County police without incident upon entering the building, according to the district. The teen said he was handcuffed and brought to a local police precinct in an unmarked vehicle.
"Our primary focus aside from providing a high-quality education, is to provide a safe learning environment for students and staff," the William Floyd School District said.
Stow was suspended Tuesday after showing up to class in person and refusing to leave, despite being scheduled to attend class virtually that day, as part of the school's hybrid-learning program.
"Any attempt by a student who has been suspended or any other unauthorized person trying to enter school grounds is taken extremely seriously and will be met with the most severe consequences," the district said.
After the school district said Wednesday they actually agree with Stow's initial position and wish school could be held in person for all students daily, their tone noticeably changed after the teen popped up on campus yet again Thursday.
"Mr. Stow continues to display irresponsible and selfish behavior," they said Thursday.
The district called it a publicity stunt and warned that the teen's actions could result in the entire school shifting to remote learning.
"If Mr. Stow continues to try to access school grounds each day that we are open, we will close the high school – and its approximately 3,000 students – to all in-person learning and it will be all virtual for the foreseeable future," they said. "Mr. Stow’s rights as a student do not surpass the rights of any of our other 8,799 students; they should not have to come to school to witness this circus atmosphere each day."
After Stow was booked, processed and given a desk appearance ticket, he explained to PIX11 that he plans to picket at the school beginning next week. He said he would skip any Friday protest because of the anniversary of 9/11.
Stow suggested the school could do more to allow students to learn in-person on a daily basis. He suggested gyms, cafeterias and auto shops in schools be used to further spread out students.
"If it's not six feet apart and we're wearing our masks and we're a little bit closer together, maybe we could sacrifice that for the greater good of being able to go to school," he said.
Nora Kaplan-Stow, his mother, said she had mixed feelings about what happened Thursday.
"I am beyond proud of my son for standing up for what he believes in and defending his right to an education," she said. "I also am a little upset that it has come to this point where the school had to arrest my son for wanting to go to school."