Ask just about any parent or child, and they'll tell you that student trips are a part of the identity of the Mansfield Independent School District.

Those trips often revolve around water.

"My choir went to Corpus Christi last year," said Mansfield High School student Kendra Washington. "We had a great time. Everybody came back safe, you know?"

But less than two weeks ago, there was a much different outcome. Ninth grader Carlos Perez from Mansfield's Lake Ridge High School died while he was swimming in the ocean on a trip to Corpus Christi.

"My heart just goes out to this family," said Mansfield ISD parent Nicole Wooldridge.

Lake Ridge High School student Carlos Perez drowned in the Gulf of Mexico while on a school trip to Corpus Christi.
Lake Ridge High School student Carlos Perez drowned in the Gulf of Mexico while on a school trip to Corpus Christi.

And while she and other parents still mourn the death of Perez, she was shocked nonetheless when she received a message from her son's school band on Friday afternoon.

"'The district administration has instructed all MISD students not to be allowed in the ocean, pools and water parks,'" Wooldridge said, reading an excerpt from the note.

Some felt it was a knee-jerk reaction to an unexpected tragedy; a ban on all water-related activities with no public input.

"I felt like it was very soon after the tragedy," Wooldridge said.

Legacy High School student Kendra Washington said the district's edict was all the buzz at school Monday.

"I don’t think you should just cut off all water trips," she said.

But Monday, Mansfield ISD Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas clarified the district's position in a district-wide email. It read, in part:

"I believe it is in the best interest of our district to temporarily suspend or limit field trips that involve ocean-related or beach-related activities. It is important we continue to assess and evaluate the tragic accident in Corpus Christi. In addition, we will consult with district stakeholders and outside experts to review our field trip policies and procedures involving ocean and beach-related activities.There are many other field trips scheduled that involve hotel pools and water resorts, and these trips must be carefully scrutinized as well. Pools and water resorts that are well staffed with certified lifeguards and are capable of managing large groups may be appropriate. Pools and water resorts that do not have lifeguards or that may not be used to large groups would not be appropriate."

A district spokesman clarified that statement even further, saying trips to beach towns can still happen, but students won't be taken to the beach. And pool or water park trips will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

That made a lot more sense to Wooldridge... and to Washington, who said limiting beach trips is understandable "while the would is still healing." "But indefinitely? I don’t think so."

A spokesman for the district said he does not believe any trips have been canceled yet, but parents are being urged to call their child's school for clarification. The superintendent's memo said trip cancelations were a possibility.

Refunds are available, the district says, if children no longer want to go on their trips.