While a female classmate was having an asthma attack, the teacher ordered the class to remain seated and wait for the nurse. However, when the girl fell to the floor, gasping for air, a student scooped her up and carried her to the nurse’s office for life-saving treatment. Now, he’s been suspended.
During morning classes at Gateway Middle School in Killeen, Texas, 15-year-old Tishica Fisher was hit with a sudden and unexpected asthma attack. After notifying the teacher of her worsening situation, the girl was told to wait at her desk as the educator contacted the school nurse, according to Allergic Living.
The teacher proceeded to email the on-site medical professional, informing the rest of the class to quietly remain in their seats and ignore their classmate as Fisher struggled to breathe, since the nurse would soon remedy the situation. However, as crucial minutes passed, the teen’s condition grew increasingly worse.
As the muscles in her airway tightened, restricting her ability to breathe, the girl suddenly fell out of her chair to the floor, where she helplessly gasped for air. However, instead of rushing to her aid, the teacher continued to wait for the nurse’s response. That’s when one student took action.
USA Today reports that Anthony Ruelas, 15, defied the teacher’s order to stay seated, scooped up his choking classmate, and carried her to the nurse’s office for emergency medical treatment. Despite likely saving the girl’s life, Ruelas returned to class to find a written warning and a suspension waiting for him.
“I was like what? I’m suspended for this? Like, I was trying to help her,” said Anthony. “I broke rules but, she needed help, like she needed help.”
Written in the teacher’s handwriting was a referral that chastised Ruelas for disobeying her orders and walking out of class. He was subsequently suspended for his actions, despite the note explaining in depth the exceptional situation.
“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— 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,” the referral reads.
Mandy Cortes, who is Ruelas’ mother, told reporters that she is proud of her son for doing the right thing. She explained that it’s this exact sort of punishing good behavior that hinders progress in students enrolled in alternative schools such as Gateway.
“He may not follow instructions all the time, but he does have a great heart,” said Mandy Cortes. “Especially with it being an alternative school I feel like the kids hear enough of ‘they’re bad’ or their behavior, or you know, and for them to not be rewarded for really something that is brave, ya know, he is a hero to me.”
When Cortes arrived to pick up her son for suspension, she initially chastised him for leaving the classroom without permission, which is the only explanation she was given by the school. However, once he told her why he had done so, she had to walk back her accusation.
“I don’t, ya know think, he should have used that language. But as far as getting suspended for walking out of class, he could have saved her life,” his mother said.
After taking her son’s story to the media, Cortes finally received an appropriate response from the school district. Although the district was still reviewing the incident, the superintendent admitted that he cannot side with the school’s decision to punish Ruelas. Still, his suspension stands.
The school district said it couldn’t provide details because it involved “student discipline and/or health records.” However, the statement from John Craft, superintendent of Killeen Independent School District, concluded: “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.”
Although Ruelas was visibly dismayed by the school’s decision, his unwarranted punishment didn’t cloud his morals. When asked if he’d still help his classmate if he knew that this would be the outcome, he unhesitatingly answered, “Most definitely.”
Fortunately, Fisher has recovered from her close-call and refers to Ruelas as her hero. Hopefully, he doesn’t allow the school’s reprimand to break his spirit and keep him from doing what is right, despite what his peers are doing or what an authority figure commands.