Police officer threatens call to “DYFS” on New Jersey dad whose son had COVID-19 exposure

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BEACHWOOD, NJ – John Wehrle received a phone call to pick his son up from Beachwood Elementary School after he was forced by the school to go home after being exposed to COVID-19. Wehrle said he just wanted to speak to somebody about what happened, but school officials said he could not speak to the vice principal.

Police say Wehrle was ‘causing a disturbance’, screaming at teachers and when Beachwood school resource officer Meissner arrived, he threatened to call the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), now called  Division of Child Protection and Permanency on him.

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After arguing with the school nurse, Wehrle said he was going to come to the school to “get some answers”.

The Beachwood Police Department released a statement:

On 10/6/2021, School Resource Officer Meissner received a phone call from a noticeably upset front office administrative assistant at the Beachwood Elementary School (Officer Meissner was outside at the rear of the school at the time of this incident). She advised Officer Meissner that a male had gained access into the school without permission and was screaming at school employees in the front office demanding to speak with the Vice Principal. Officer Meissner arrived at the front door, observing several parents outside then entered and proceeded to the front office. Upon speaking with the school employees in the front office, they advised that a male, John Wehrle, entered the school without being authorized by following contractors after they were buzzed in. They also advised that he was irate and screaming once inside the office causing a disturbance inside of the school while school was in session. He shouted loudly that he was not taking his son out of the school. The employees, who were visibly shaken, advised that it took one of the male contractors to escort Mr. Wehrle outside of the building.

Once in the front office, Officer Meissner was briefed by the school employees that the school nurse had called Mr. Wehrle and advised him that his child had been exposed to a Covid-19 positive person and would have to be picked up from school and be in quarantine for a specific amount of time as per Toms River Regional Schools Covid-19 policies and NJDOH recommendations. Officer Meissner was advised by school employees that Mr. Wehrle had advised the school nurse that he was not going to pick up his child and that he was going to remain in school. He further advised the nurse that he was going to come down to the school to “get some answers” while still advising that he refused to pick up his child.

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Officer Meissner then exited the front door, observing Mr. Wehrle, and asked him how he could further help him. Knowing that Mr. Wehrle had previously advised the nurse and two school employees that he was not going to take custody of his child and that Mr. Wehrle’s child was no longer allowed to remain in school, due to the COVID-19 exposure, he advised Mr. Wehrle that he would have to call the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly known as DYFS) if Mr. Werhle refused to take custody of his child being that there was no parent or guardian willing to take custody. Mr. Wehrle then agreed to take his child and left the premises.

A statement from the school nurse was later obtained by our department. The nurse advised that she contacted Mr. Werhle by telephone just prior to this incident to advise him that his child was in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual and needed to be taken out of school and quarantined. She informed him that his child would be able to participate virtually while on quarantine and that if he needed a chrome book, one would be provided. She also informed Mr. Werhle that he would be receiving an e-mail later on that day containing all the information she had told him over the phone so he had a written document of the information to refer to should he have any questions.

She further stated in her report that she was repeatedly interrupted and talked over by Mr. Wehrle while she was trying to give him information on his child’s situation. She advised that he stated to her that he would not be picking up his child and the child would remain in school. After trying to further explain why the child needed to be picked up (due to Covid-19 exposure), she advised that he continually interrupted her while she was trying to answer his concerns with an explanation. He also continued to state that he was not going to pick up his child from school.

Officer Meissners’ comment with regards to contacting DCP&P was solely made due to the fact that Mr. Wehrle stated numerous times that he would not be taking his child out of school, therefore leaving his child in the care of school staff. DCP&P is a resource commonly used when a child’s welfare is in question. The fact that Mr. Wehrle refused to take custody of his child by refusing to pick him up from school put his child’s welfare in peril.

In addition, Contrary to what Ocean County Scanner News has claimed, The Beachwood Police Department has not been contacted by them for a comment.

We remind the public that the Beachwood Police Department and Toms River School System must adhere to the State of New Jersey Executive Orders issued by Governor Murphy and the rules that govern them. We please ask that you remain patient through this difficult time for all of us. We understand the frustrations many of you have with the rules that are currently in place but we as a department, school district, and parents must work together to navigate through this difficult time.