California regulators raided three preschools and questioned as many as twenty-two children in January. The facility owner had refused to permit children younger than two years of age to use facemasks. It was in contravention of California’s School Mask mandate.

This caused outrage among parents. One parent said that their children were “frustrated”, angry, confused, and aghast.”

The Voice of San Diego reported that officials from the California Department of Social Services interviewed three Aspen Leaf Preschools in San Diego. They asked them questions about their Covid policies.

Aspen Leaf Preschool received a Type-A citation from the CDSS Community Care Licensing Division. It was issued because the school refused to follow the state’s mask mandate.

Howard Wu, Aspen Leaf Preschool owner, filed a complaint with the agency, appealing the citation. Wu called the investigation a “simultaneous raid on multiple schools” and said that he was involved in inappropriate interviews of children. Fox News also viewed Wu’s complaint.

San Diego parents were furious after California state regulators raided three Aspen Leaf Preschool locations and interrogated children about the schools' mask policies

San Diego parents furious that California state regulators invaded the Aspen Leaf Preschool locations. They interrogated their children regarding school’s mask policies.

Aspen Leaf Preschool faced a Type A citation from the state's Department of Social Services as a result of the investigation, meaning it poses an 'immediate' threat to child health or safety

Aspen Leaf Preschool received a type A citation from state Department of Social Services following the investigation. It was deemed to be a ‘immediate threat’ to children’s safety or health.

Owner Howard Wu is appealing a Type A citation, arguing that the agency does not have the authority to issue the citation when the state's Department of Health put forth the mask rules

Owner Howard Wu is appealing a Type A citation, arguing that the agency does not have the authority to issue the citation when the state’s Department of Health put forth the mask rules

“This gross abuse of power is shameful and unacceptable for many reasons,’ wrote parents Stephanie and Richard Rosado in another complaint seen by the Voice of San Diego.

‘The people who ordered this to be done and those who participated should be held responsible,’ the parents wrote, telling the news outlet that they spoke to their 4-year-old son about not talking to strangers just a few days before the raids.

Another parent, Connie Wu – who is unrelated to Howard Wu, said her daughter wasn’t even 2 during the January interview and she’s too young to articulate how it made her feel. 

“She’s not developmentally able to tell me. She doesn’t have the vocabulary to be able to talk about being interviewed by a stranger,’ Wu told the news outlet.  

In response to an early January parent complaint about Aspen Leaf Preschool’s policy of mask-wearing, the agency conducted investigations. Wu claimed that he’s communicated his policy to parents and never had any parents backlash since its inception.

Children cannot use a mask to eat, or nap while wearing it. The policy states that there are no benefits for children using a mask in other situations.

Wu said that after inspections, every family he had heard of was furious at the interviews. We were open about the entire pandemic regarding not hiding children’s identities and the reasons for it.

Wu included responses from parents in the complaint to the CDSS. Many argued that this investigation was out-of-line and an abuse.

“I don’t feel that this interview served my kid’s safety and well-being, and I think it might have left a bad impression about her obligations regarding speaking with stranger adults in private without any known caregivers present,” one parent said.

‘I understand that while the licensing agency is authorized to conduct private interviews with the children – this authority was put in place and intended for use when there is a situation of possible abuse, which is ENTIRELY absent from this situation,’ another parent wrote.

The parent stated, “Therefore this agency has clearly overstepped their authority,”

The agency carried out the investigations in response to a parent complaint in early January over Aspen Leaf Preschool's policy against requiring children to wear face masks. Above is Apsen Leaf Preschool's location on Third Avenue in San Diego

This was in response to an early January parent complaint about Aspen Leaf Preschool’s ban on children being required to use face masks. The location of Apsen Leaf Preschool is on Third Avenue in San Diego.

One parent recalled being 'frustrated,' 'angry,' 'aghast' and 'confused' on finding out that their toddler was questioned by state officials without parental consent

Unable to consent, one parent recalls being frustrated, angry, aghast, and confused when their toddler was interrogated by the state without them knowing. 

Aspen Leaf Preschool responded to the citation by updating its Covid policy online to require face masks until the state lifts the rule on March 11. Above, a student at Aspen Leaf Preschool is seen wearing a face mask

Aspen Leaf Preschool replied to the citation online by updating its Covid policy to require that face masks be worn until the state removes the ban on March 11. Above: A student from Aspen Leaf Preschool can be seen with a mask on his face 

‘Frustrated. Angry. Aghast. Confused. These were just a few words to describe our feelings as parents when our 3.5-year old son was interrogated by preschool officials about mask-wear indoors.

Aspen Leaf Preschool responded by updating their Covid policy online. It now requires face masks for the state to lift the March 11th rule. Wu claimed he did it to keep himself from being shutdown, and that he would still fight the citation. 

Wu also claimed that CDSS doesn’t have authority to issue citations because the agency didn’t institute the mask mandate. Therefore, the Department of Health of the State is responsible for the enforcement of it.

Fox News interviewed him and he stated that “we believe in good faith” that no agency has the jurisdiction to enforce the mask guidance of another agency. Additionally, he said that he felt that the pre-schools were being unfairly targeted by his stand on mask mandates.

“They could have issued us an injunction within 5 minutes, and we should take up the challenge through the appropriate channels. It felt like power plays to have multi-school raids simultaneously and child interviews. 

Aspen Leaf Preschool closed when the pandemic began in March 2020 and reopened that June, publicizing that it would not enforce the state’s mask requirement, according to the Voice of San Diego.

However, the school continued operating in this manner without any questions. In December 2021 CDSS officials visited the schools and found that no children were wearing masks. Wu said that they issued no citations or report at the time, but emailed him later reiterating the state’s mask requirements.

The CDSS defended its action in a letter to Wu, which was seen by Fox News, stating that it has the authority to "enter and inspect a licensed child care facility at any time, with or without advance notice, to secure compliance with, or prevent a violation" of state laws. Above, a child plays outside at Aspen Leaf Preschool in San Diego

In a letter addressed to Wu by the CDSS, it defended their actions, saying that they have the right to enter and inspect licensed child care facilities at any time with or without prior notice to ensure compliance or prevent violations of state laws. Above is a play area for children at Aspen Leaf Preschool San Diego.

Wu claimed that he expected the agency not to take further actions, however, Wu was contacted by a parent who complained about Wu’s conduct during January’s Omicron surge. Wu was called by an investigator who said that he had to enforce the mandate. However, Wu argued that the agency didn’t have the authority to do so.

In less than a week all three locations were open to investigators, who started questioning the children.

In defending its actions, the CDSS wrote Wu, which Fox News saw. It stated that it is authorized to enter and inspect licensed child care facilities at any time with or without prior notice to ensure compliance or to prevent violations of state laws.

The agency can interview children “without prior consent” and, if necessary, in privacy.

“Based on their personal observations and interviews of the facility directors, staff and children, CCLD staff determined that the licensee failed to ensure that staff and children used face coverings as required by the State Public Health Officer Order of June 11, 2021, thus violating the children’s personal right to safe and healthful accommodations,” the letter said.

Fox News saw the letter that was sent by CDSS to complain parents. In it, Kevin Gaines, deputy director of CCLD, stated: “We want you to know that CCLD is serious about its responsibility to protect children and their safety in licensed child care facilities.” CCLD reached out to your child because of this.

“CCLD confirms that Aspen Leaf staff were present during conversations with children as part of the complaint investigation. CCLD has determined that the interviews were conducted in an appropriate manner and were a necessary component of the required complaint investigation,’ the letter added.

“A licensing evaluator is respectful of a child’s choice to answer questions. If at any point during an interview a child expresses or exhibits apprehension or discomfort, the interview is discontinued,’ the letter concluded.  

Aspen Leaf Preschool modified its Covid protocol so as to not be subject to the same repercussions that schools such Foothills Christian Church Preschool El Cajon might face.

The preschool was shut down was in early January for violating the state’s mask mandate and director Tiffany McHugh will never be allowed to work with children again after the California Department of Social Services revoked her license.

California bans Christian preschool’s director from ever working again with children after her inability to make masks for two-year olds class.

California Christian preschool director is barred from any future work with children after failing to allow two-year-olds wearing face masks into class.

Tiffany McHugh was the Director of Foothills Christian Church in San Diego. The Department of Social Services closed the school because McHugh could not get the students to wear their masks. 

McHugh said that they were up against parents who don’t want their kids to be masks so young. 

“There were lots of kids who weren’t old enough to wear masks. It is really hard.  

Tiffany McHugh has had her license suspended forever after the California Department of Social Services shut down Foothills Christian Church Preschool in December

Tiffany McHugh has had her license suspended forever after the California Department of Social Services shut down Foothills Christian Church Preschool in December 

The school has appealed the suspended license and will appeal hearing is schedule for Friday

Now, parents are protesting outside the school and saying that they would like their children to continue school.

Social Services visited the school after a complaint from parents about its mask policy. The school was cleared in November. However, a few weeks later the department returned for a routine inspection and discovered that students were not using masks anymore. 

McHugh stated to CBS 8 that McHugh had told them they were planning on continuing work, but McHugh said three days later, “They came in and closed us down.” 

It was alleged that employees of the preschool were not wearing masks, and they also ‘didn’t encourage’ students to wear them. 

The school appealed the suspension license. A hearing will be scheduled.

The school's license was revoked after the department said it 'failed' to 'encourage' preschools to wear a mask and that not all the staff were wearing one

The department claims it failed to encourage pre-schools to wear masks and did not have all of its staff wearing them. This led to the suspension of the school’s licensing.

According to reports, McHugh also stopped workers inspecting the building for state employees to allow students and employees to don masks. 

The school was accused of failing to encourage and prompt students 2 years old and above to use face covers at all times. 

A department removed her license permanently and prohibited her from working with children. 

McHugh stated that the Christian school appealed against the suspension of its license. The hearing was scheduled for February 11.  

Parents are now protesting outside the school’s closure after months of working with the state for improvement. 

Brian Jones (GOP State Senator) and Bill Wells, El Cajon Mayor joined the demonstrations. 

A parent who spoke to CBS 8 but was not identified said that her children were safe with her and other staff. 

Several parents have spoken out about the close. Derrek Cardinale (left) said it was the 'safest school around' and was 'angry' that it was forced to close

Numerous parents spoke out against the closing. Derrek Cardone (left) stated that it was the best school and was angry it had to close.

Derrek Cardinale (realtor) said Foothills Christian School was the “safest school around” and that he was surprised and angered that it is closing down. 

Many claim the school is a ‘target’ because the department visited it 11 times within a short time, as opposed to only a handful of other schools nearby. 

David Hoffman, Foothills Christian Church’s senior pastor, stated to the KUSI, “They targeted us.” Have you ever attempted to cover a 2-year-old with a mask? I mean, c’mon!

“Most parents are against their kids wearing masks,” said one parent. reached out to California Department of Social Services in order for comments. 

In recent months, masking children has been a major topic. The vaccines can only be given to children five years and older. However, many states are encouraging younger children to use the masks even though they have a low chance of getting a deadly or severe COVID infection.