A Nigerian father, Stephen Opayemi has taken a Connecticut elementary school to court for banning his daughter for 21 days from school just because she attended a wedding in Nigeria. The school banned the third grade pupil over Ebola fears despite Nigeria being certified Ebola-free by the World Health Organization and besides, the daughter has not experienced any symptoms associated with Ebola and her health is fine, but parents and teachers were concerned she could transmit Ebola to other children, the lawsuit says. He asked a judge to order the schools in Milford, Connecticut, to immediately permit his daughter to return to her third-grade class.
The daughter, Ikeoluwa Opayemi had traveled to and from Lagos, Nigeria, between Oct. 2 and Oct. 13, with her father.
African communities in the United States have reported an increasing amount of ostracism since the Ebola epidemic began. At least two speeches by Liberians have been canceled by U.S. universities, and a college in Texas refused admission to Nigerian students over worries about the virus.
A neighbor of the Opayemi family, Prashant Batil, said his 6-year-old plays often with Ikeoluwa and that he believed the school system was overreacting.
“The parents are extremely responsible people, and if they say she does not have Ebola, I would have no reluctance for my daughter to play with her,” Batil said in an interview.
Opayemi’s suit was filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law prohibits discrimination based on someone having a physical or mental impairment, or on the belief that someone has such an impairment.
Milford officials refused the father’s offer to have both himself and his daughter screened for Ebola, the suit says.
According to the suit, a city health official said in an Oct. 15 meeting that the risk of the girl infecting anyone was minor but that she ought to be quarantined because of rumors, panic and the climate of the school.
City and school officials told Ikeoluwa not to return to school until Nov. 3.