Park Ridge parents sue District 64 over quarantine demand

Park Ridge parents who were forced to pull their three children from school because the kids hadn't quarantined after a trip abroad are suing over the matter.

Lucas and Daniela Fuksa filed a petition for relief and for an injunction against Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 and Superintendent Eric Olson on Monday in Cook County circuit court.

The complaint alleges the children are being unlawfully required to stay home and are being denied their right to attend public school.

The Fuksas are requesting an injunction preventing the district from forcing the children to quarantine without a court order.

According to the complaint, the family flew to Italy on Sept. 12 to attend a wedding. Before their departure from the U.S. and before their eventual return, all five Fuksas tested negative for the COVID-19 virus, the petition states.

The Fuksas also reviewed information purportedly emailed to them by a school nurse detailing the district's guidelines for travel during the pandemic, the petition states. That information - included in the court filing - recommended but didn't require quarantining upon returning home.

But the document included with the complaint didn't specifically address international travel.

A policy published on the District 64 website, dated Sept. 1, states all unvaccinated international travelers, including children, "must quarantine for 7 days after the date of return, even if test results are negative."

Travelers who haven't been tested must quarantine for 10 days following a return to the U.S., the policy states.

On Monday, a day after returning to the U.S., the three children went to Field Elementary School. Shortly afterward, a school nurse called and said the kids were in the principal's office and needed to be picked up so they could quarantine for seven days, the petition states.

The parents initially refused to comply, citing the policy shared with them and state law, the petition states. They also refused when a second employee made the same request, the petition states.

Eventually, Olson called and said he would call police to escort the children home if a parent didn't get them, the petition states. At that point, the Fuksas got their kids.

In their petition, the Fuksas argue that the kids have not been ordered to quarantine by a local or state health department and thus do not have to follow the school's demand.

"The district and Defendant Olson have infringed upon the lawful right of the Children and their Parents to be free to choose for themselves what health and safety measures they feel are appropriate for the Children," the petition states.

The Fuksas publicized the dispute by speaking about it during Thursday night's District 64 board meeting.

Later in the meeting, trustees and administrators discussed the policy and confirmed quarantine has been mandatory for students who travel internationally since school began in August.

Board member Gareth Kennedy said the information on the website needs to be clarified for parents.

"We've got to be very clear," he said. "If not, parents who just don't know the rules (are) just going to keep sending kids to school."

Olson pledged to clarify the information on the website.

A request by the Fuksas for a temporary restraining order against the district was denied Tuesday, court documents indicate. The Fuksas couldn't be reached for additional comment Friday.

When asked about the case, District 64 spokesman Nick Shepkowski and attorney Tony Loizzi said officials won't comment on pending litigation.

A Sept. 28 status hearing has been set, Loizzi said.

Mask debate in Park Ridge-Niles District 64

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