Posted at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 25, 2021
The Brillion News
GREEN BAY - The mother of two De Pere High School students, who is also a substitute teacher, filed a suit in Brown County Circuit Court on October 20 seeking a judgment declaring that the Unified School District of De Pere (USDD) exceeded its legal powers by imposing quarantines on students who do not appear to have a communicable disease.
The petition seeks to invalidate the quarantines issued by the district, which is the public school district for east De Pere and surrounding rural townships. West De Pere public schools are a separate district.
The suit also seeks an injunction enjoining the USDD from overstepping its powers in the future.
Petitioners are Stephanie McManus and her two minor daughters, identified only by their initials as R.M. and M.M.
The case was initially assigned to Circuit Court Judge Tammy Jo Hock, but she recused herself and it was reassigned to Judge Kendall Kelley.
The suit names as defendants the USDD, the Board of Education of the USDD and the superintendent of the school district, Benjamin Villarruel.
The basic tenet of the lawsuit is that the state Department of Health Services and local public health officials have the right to quarantine - if certain health standards are present - but school districts have no such power.
"As such, teachers, principals, directors and nurses serving a school district are not authorized to quarantine students who do not appear to have a communicable disease," the suit said.
It notes that the Department of Health Services allows school officials to send home a student suspected of having a communicable disease, but only for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment.
The USDD has also been ordering students to stay home and quarantine even if they have tested negative for COVID and have no visible symptoms.
The suit said the school district's policy "segregates and divides vaccinated and non-vaccinated students into separate camps" and denies the quarantined, non-vaccinated students equal access to a Wisconsin public school system.
The suit asks the court to:
Invalidate the district's quarantine policy as its exceeds their statutory authority and is therefore unlawful;
Immediately and permanently enjoin the USDD from implementing and enforcing the quarantine policy against students;
Award the plaintiffs reasonable costs and attorney fees.
The suit was filed by the Madison law firm of Levine Eisberner, whose practice includes civil right cases, including those where "the government deprived you of a right you were owed under our legal system."
The court has set a hearing for Monday, November 1, at 11:30 p.m. in Judge Kelley's court to consider the request for an injunction to stop the USDD from imposing its quarantine policy.