Fremont parent files civil lawsuit against school district over contact tracing | Heralrepublican

FREMONT — A Fremont Community Schools parent has followed through on a threat he made earlier this school year and is filing a lawsuit against the district, seeking policy change on how it deals with COVID-19.

On behalf of his daughter and without legal representation, Andrew Lies filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday in Steuben Circuit Court seeking “declaratory relief and injunctive relief to protect their constitutional rights to attend school.” The suit named Fremont Community Schools; Superintendent Bill Stitt and board members Anna Creager, Kim Bennett, Gary Baker, Heather Reetz and Alicia Perry. Board chair Laura McLatcher and Jenna Stuckey, who resigned as a board member, are not named.

Stitt, said “all documents will be turned over to our school’s attorney,” declining to comment further on the ongoing litigation.

On Sept. 16, Stitt received an email from Lies in which he expressed concern about the district’s COVID-19 policies, specifically regarding unvaccinated students and adults and contact tracing quarantine procedures.

Lies told Stitt in that email that he would file a lawsuit “unless this policy is changed to give equal protection to all and stop discriminating against the ‘unvaccinated’. If we the people give a thumb to the state, they will continue to encroach on our freedoms.

In a Zoom interview, Lies said the monetary gain “has nothing to do with that costume. It’s not about that at all. People need to know that.”

Instead, he wants answers.

“I want to know how many students have been quarantined in total and how many have been tested,” he said. “And, why are they making decisions on these policies?”

Lies said he has maintained regular contact with the district over the past few months, attending monthly trustee meetings and speaking to the board as well as email contact with Stitt, demanding responses to his questions. He said he had received none.

“I’ve been going to these meetings for over a year,” Lies said. “They don’t want to give me any information. Everything they’ve done seems to be behind the scenes and no one wants to answer questions at these meetings.

The complaint alleges two violations against Fremont Schools, Stitt and the board.

Lies’ first claim against the district, a violation of Indiana’s quarantine laws. He alleges that Fremont schools “relying on the recommendation and guidance of the Indiana Department of Health imposed mandatory quarantines excluding students who showed no symptoms from school because FCS believed they were in close contact with a COVID-19 positive case”.

A violation of the Vaccine Passport Act, passed this year alone, is the second allegation addressed in the complaint, in which Lies states that “FCS assumed that people who received the COVID-19 vaccine are immune. However, according to IC-16-39-11-2, they do not have immunity and therefore cannot be considered immune.

Lies said the suit wouldn’t have been filed “if they had given more answers about why they do things.”

Lies said he and other like-minded parents “are more than capable of meeting in the middle one way or another. Whether it’s close contact, you have to mask up for 10 days, we’re more than happy to make those compromises to make kids safer.

Lies said the suit wouldn’t have been filed “if they had given more answers about why they do things.”

Lies said if the district “can show us why they’re doing what they’re doing, I can accept that if they have the data to back it up.”

Stitt along with statewide superintendents received a letter from the Indiana Department of Health on Tuesday clarifying COVID-19 requirements for the school district.

The letter, signed by state health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, told Stitt that schools must help stop the spread of COVID-19 by complying with certain disease control interventions or measures. that “Indiana schools are legally required to comply with COVID-19 control measures, including quarantine requirements for students.

According to the letter, control measures include “reporting cases, tracing contacts, isolating positive cases and quarantining close contacts if necessary. (Indian law) legally requires local health departments to put in place control measures in their jurisdiction, which means they are responsible for ensuring that schools in their jurisdiction comply with the control measures.

In his letter, Box said Indiana schools must legally follow all listed control measures, including isolation and quarantine; however, districts may exercise discretion with masking, distancing, and other guidance measures offered by the state to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The letter continues: “IDOH has also provided guidance to schools on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including mitigation measures such as masking and social distancing. The guidance is based on evidence on the most recent knowledge regarding the spread of COVID-19. Although IDOH strongly encourages schools to follow its guidance recommendations, schools are not legally required to comply, unlike control measures. »

At press time Thursday, not all parties had been served. Once served, District Attorney Tim Shelley, a partner at the law firm Elkhart Warrick & Boyn, LLP, has 30 days to respond to the complaint.

The cost to Lies to file the lawsuit and have each party served by the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office was $342.

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