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San Diego pizza place supporting students who protest masks

Posted at 5:21 PM, Feb 18, 2022

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - A San Diego-area pizza place is gaining attention online after a post started circulating that reads “Calling all kids! Flippin Pizza is offering a free pizza slice for any student that gets kicked out of class for being unmasked. Take a pic or honor system. Let freedom ring!”

Jason Bennett owns four Flipping Pizza locations and said it all started when he heard about a Poway Unified School District student who refused to wear a mask in class. He said he heard the student was not able to eat lunch, although the district said they “would never prevent a child from eating lunch.”

“I just said I’ll give the kids a free slice of pizza, if they’re protesting I want them to be rewarded for exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully,” said Bennett.

He said a friend of his put that post online, not him, and wants to clarify that his offer is not an act of defiance, but an act of support.

“Flippin isn’t promoting kids to be unruly, to get kicked out of class. Just the ones that are getting kicked out because their protesting, I want to make sure they’re rewarded for exercising their right,” he said.

He added that he is a veteran and fought for the rights of Americans, so he wanted to support students who are finding their voices.

“I’m a Marine and it really hit hope for me that these kids are learning at a young age that they have a voice and they can protest and I wanted to reward them for that. And also make sure they don’t go hungry,” he said.

While Bennett owns four of the franchise’s locations, another franchise owner said he’s received backlash over this post.

A statement from a different franchise owner reads:

My name is Carlos Durazo and I am the owner of the Scripps Ranch Flippin’ Pizza. Each Flippin’ Pizza location is individually owned and operated.

It has come to my attention that there was a controversial flyer offering free pizza slices for students penalized for ignoring mask mandates at a middle school. This was done solely by that owner. I was never consulted about this or made aware of this happening. I was only made aware of this by upset individuals calling my store and by negative Yelp reviews linking me with the other location. Please know that I was not involved in any way.

I have owned and operated this Flippin Pizza location for last the last 3 years. During this time, I have been actively involved in the community and have donated thousands of dollars back to the schools. My wife and two children live in this community and I operate this store to support them.

I work closely with many schools in the Scripps Ranch area and my goal is to make delicious New York style pizzas, host fundraisers for schools, sports teams and non-profits and support my Scripps Ranch neighbors.

I hope that the actions by another nearby owner will not affect your decision to support my store.

Bennett owns the Flippin Pizzas in Encinitas, 4s Ranch, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Del Mar/Carmel Valley.

The Poway Unified School District released this statement:

Over the last few days, there has been an increase in the number of students at our school refusing to wear masks in indoor settings. We recognize there is a lot of frustration around mask mandates and the desire to have mask choice. However, at this time, we are still required to follow the CDPH and San Diego County Public Health orders around students wearing their masks indoors. As we’ve shared before, this is not a school or District decision. Our school staff is doing the best we can, with schools placed in a difficult situation trying to enforce the mask mandates even as the statewide mask mandate was lifted. 

We understand the impact this has had on our children firsthand. But disrupting the learning environment is only hurting students. We are asking our families to have conversations with their children about continuing to wear masks until we can receive additional guidance on February 28th, when the State will reevaluate the mask mandate in schools. Please know our Superintendent is actively advocating for the Governor and CDPH to reveal a plan for how schools can move forward with returning our campuses back to normal.

We are asking families to encourage students to attend their classes by wearing a mask so there is minimal disruption to their learning. If a student chooses to come to school but refuses to wear a mask indoors, they will need to check in at the designated location on campus where they will receive directions on where they can access their class work online. Unfortunately, due to limited staff, we cannot notify the families of every student who chooses not to attend class.  We recognize that this is a challenging situation, and we want to work together with our families to ensure students are able to continue with their learning.