NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP/PIX11) — The father of a Connecticut third-grader has filed a federal lawsuit saying his daughter has been unfairly barred from school amid fears she may have been exposed to the Ebola virus while in Africa.
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in New Haven, Ikeoluwa Opayemi and her family visited Nigeria from Oct. 2 through Oct. 13. They attended a wedding where the third-grader was the flower girl.
The family says when the girl tried to return to Meadowside Elementary School, she was told she had to stay home until Nov. 3 because of a concern she might have been exposed to the virus.
According to court paperwork, Milford’s superintendent said the girl would be removed by school police if she went to class, FOXCT reported.
Ikeoluwa’s father, Stephen Opayemi, told the Hartford Courant “She is unfairly treated and discriminated against because of a fear some people have [that] she might have Ebola.”
While the girl is not allowed in the school building, she is receiving tutoring lessons provided by the school district during the week for 90 minutes a day, the website reported.
The family didn’t travel to Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia — the three nations associated with the current Ebola outbreak.
The lawsuit seeks an order allowing the girl to return to school and unspecified monetary damages. It was filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the law prohibits discrimination based on the belief that someone has an impairment.
“These are intelligent people who took this action and I think a lot of it is because of the fear of the community and that is what often results in discrimination,” Gary Phelan, the family’s lawyer, told FOXCT.
“You know, she still suffered and in part, is asking her parents, ‘Why can’t I go to school?'”
A message seeking comment was left for Milford’s school superintendent.