SHINGLE SPRINGS (CBS13) — An elementary school principal in El Dorado County had anti-mask protestors outside his home in early January with demands that he remove the mandate at school altogether.

The protest outside of Buckeye Elementary Principal Kevin Cadden’s home was recorded and posted to social media. The organizer, Jill Boswell, told CBS13 it was “a peaceful legal protest” that included Boswell, her husband, three “concerned members of the community”, and her two children.

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“We were exercising our first amendment on a public sidewalk as well as teaching out kids to know the constitution and exercise their first amendment as well,” Boswell wrote to CBS13.

In the video, still shared to Facebook, members of the protest can be heard yelling, “Child abuse! Child abuse!”, “We’re exercising our first amendment” and “Stop abusing our children, it’s against the penal code.” All of this, outside of Cadden’s home on a Tuesday night in January.

Neighbors can be heard coming to Cadden’s defense to diffuse the situation.  One said, “Leave him alone.”

The Buckeye Union School District Superintendent wrote a district-wide letter to families after the incident with support for Cadden:

Fortunately, Mr. Cadden lives in a close-knit neighborhood and his neighbors immediately came to his assistance in order to diffuse the situation. These protestors chose to post their activity on social media and, as a result, many have watched the video and many have expressed their overwhelming concern for Mr. Cadden and his family. It would be an understatement for me to express the sense of shock that we who work every day with Mr. Cadden felt about this intrusion on his home life. I want to ensure the community that the District is providing its resources to support the Caddens.

Support has grown on social media from families, too, uniting parents for and against mask mandates:

“As a mama who desperately wants her kiddos out of masks as well, and participates in the truly peaceful protesting of mandates, this is gross and COMPLETELY undermines and taints what millions of families have been fighting for for the last 2 years. I pray that regardless of our stance on mandates and masks, we can all agree that this is a blatant example of harassment and a threat to do harm, and that we do NOT support these actions.

😢 👎 definitely other ways to handle this. It’s unfortunate. Shouldn’t go to their home-not cool.

This is disgusting. How dare you go to someone’s home and scream while their children are inside. Find a better way to get your point across- have you tried the district? Come on lady!!”

May be an image of dog and text that says 'WE BUCKEVE STRONG PRINCIPAL CADDEN'

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Parents at pickup on Tuesday told CBS13 the move went, “too far,” and one added that she wished the protests outside the school would stop to give students and staff peace.

Cadden, who declined to comment for this story, is getting support online with a photo that says “Buckeye Strong” and “We Love Principal Cadden.”

Cadden shared a statement with CBS13:

“Since returning from the winter break, protests have been occurring at Buckeye Elementary School on an almost daily basis. The public is permitted to peacefully protest on public property, including in front of schools. Although the protests in front of the school are permitted by law, many employees and families of Buckeye Elementary have expressed their concern about the activity.

“It is the District’s understanding that the protestors are opposed to the District’s adherence to the California Department of Public Health’s legal mandate that students and employees mask in classrooms.”

Ashutosh Bhagwat, a constitutional professor at the UC Davis School of Law, said the First Amendment only protects peaceful assembly.

“The fact that something is protected by the first amendment, doesn’t mean its good,” said Bhagwat, “Threats are outside the first amendment, so if you actually act in a way that a reasonable person feels like you’re threatening harm, you can absolutely be put in jail for that.”

As for the legal definition of peaceful, that, Bhagwat said, has been up for debate. He said, “What crosses the line into peaceful is something we’ve been fighting about for 250 years.”

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office has not provided added security at Cadden’s home but has responded to Buckeye Elementary, according to Roth’s district-wide letter:

“Although many of the protestors complied with our requests to remain off school property, not all were compliant and thus we called upon the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department to provide assistance. The Deputies have been very helpful.” 

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Roth added the district is providing its resources to support the Cadden family.