An elementary school teacher in Palm Beach County who was arrested after he violated district policy by not wearing a face covering and then refusing to leave campus was found guilty of trespassing Tuesday.
NBC affiliate WPTV-TV reports 33-year-old Christopher Persaud was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of trespassing on the grounds of a school facility after a warning. He was ordered to pay $323 in court costs within the next 30 days.
According to an initial arrest report, the principal of Westward Elementary School in West Palm Beach was notified in October 2021 that a teacher refused to wear a mask in class, which at the time was required of all employees.
Persaud was given "multiple verbal directives" to wear a face covering or leave campus, telling the principal "he was not going anywhere."
School police later arrived and told Persaud he would be arrested if he didn't leave. After he refused, he was taken into custody.
"I decided to take a stand, not just for myself, but just for the American people," Persaud said during Tuesday's trial. "For us, but mostly for Jesus Christ, my lord and savior."
Persaud's attorney said he was granted a religious exemption and was told he didn't have to wear a facial covering in class. Prosecutors claimed Persaud was instead given an accommodation that still required him to wear some type of protection.
"The rules were to wear a facial covering, mask, face shield, whatever," assistant state attorney Jason Jovine said. "Put something on your face. That was the rule at the time."
The state said Persaud was arrested for not leaving campus after being told to do so, not for violating a mask policy that has since been lifted.
Persaud has filed to run for Palm Beach County School Board and is currently employed by the district, but on a voluntary leave of absence.
Sign up for our Breaking newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.