Soccer dad threatens lawsuit after son benched for suspected measles - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 06-18-2017, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Soccer dad threatens lawsuit after son benched for suspected measles

http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local...346c7b12d.html

Summary: A dad is irate that his son was asked to leave school until either a measles case was cleared or the incubation period was over after a possible exposure to measles at a soccer tournament his son attended. The amount of time his son was out of school was three days and 1 soccer game, and the absences were considered excused by the school. He lost his starter position in the soccer team due to the absences and missed games.

The son had a religious exemption to vaccines, and the father claims religious discrimination. The school denies this noting that his son was the only one on the team who was not vaccinated with the MMR and point out that this was the recommendation given to them by multiple health departments. The father says there was no risk because it wasn't an enclosed area (not true, see this outbreak that happened at an outdoor church picnic and disneyland which is mostly outdoors, etc).

He's gone all the way up to a level III complaint to the school board after previous complaints ruled against him, which also unanimously found the school was justified in asking his son to leave school. The father now plans on filing a federal lawsuit saying : "The KPS school board just cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Federal charges are pending...I’m filing federal grievances as we speak. The school board could have resolved this for under $50,000 last night and they just cost the taxpayers about $500,000."

So.... thoughts? Is the dad blowing this way out of proportion? Can he really claim religious discrimination when his son was the only one asked to leave because he was the only one not vaccinated against measles?

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#2 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 04:40 AM
 
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Off the top of my head - I am ok with exclusion to school for measles, given both the potential severity of measles and the high communicability. I am not ok with him losing the "starting position" for being out 3 days. That seems punitive, especially in light of it being such a short absence that was not the child's fault. I would be interested in knowing if children typically lose such positions for being sick for 3 days.
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#3 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 06:58 AM
 
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The over the top reaction by the school is just comical.

The father's objections seem to stem from the fact that the alleged "measles boy" was from another school (North Platte) and that the game his son played in was outdoors and not in an enclosed space.

The kid was only just suspected of having the measles, AND he was only suspected of being at the game.

Quote:
Furthermore, according to Engen, the letters he received about the potential exposure to measles said the North Platte child was only suspected to be at the soccer games, not confirmed. The measles case was also just suspected at that point, not confirmed.
my bold

Also, his son's school hosted the North Platte school on the first day of his son's suspension. If they were so concerned about measles why didn't they cancel?
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#4 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 07:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post
The father says there was no risk because it wasn't an enclosed area (not true, see this outbreak that happened at an outdoor church picnic and disneyland which is mostly outdoors, etc).
Do you have a credible source for the outdoor picnic story because so far every article I've found that mentions it quotes Paul Offit?

Disneyland actually has many indoor venues - washrooms, restaurants, some rides, and shops.
https://disneylanddaily.com/what-to-...at-disneyland/
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#5 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 08:16 AM
 
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It's complex.

If there's an outbreak of a vaccine-targeted disease, Nebraska schools are allowed to exclude students at that school not vaccinated for that disease until the threat passes. At least that applies if this document is up-to-date, (see p. 12). https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/docs/school-vaccinations.pdf

From that link, it looks like the state doesn't have any provision to inform parents of the legal obligation to keep students home during an outbreak, but ignorance of the law wouldn't provide grounds for this dad to file a lawsuit.

The problem is that I don't think you'll find a single medical or legal definition that considers one suspected case of an illness an "outbreak." If you look up images of rashes, a lot of things can look like measles, especially to the untrained eye.

Not only would there need to be a valid outbreak, but it would need to occur at the same school where the teenager was enrolled. But instead, we have a rash not even proven to be measles at a high school 100 miles away.

So I'm having a hard time seeing how the health department would have any legal grounds to demand that the student be excluded from school.

The soccer team may be another matter. But from an alegal perspective, I agree that it sounds like the coach was being petty and punitive.
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#6 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056...0775#t=article There is a study discussing the Indiana church outbreak. At the time, it was the largest outbreak in nearly a decade. You can find a lot of information about it by just googling "Indiana measles outbreak 2005" if you are interested.

Suspected measles cases are supposed to be reported as well. From Nebraska government website:

Quote:
For suspected measles cases and before sending specimens to NPHL: call your local health
department. Isolate suspect measles case-patients and immediately report cases to local health departments to
ensure a prompt public health response.
http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/HAN/...SORY012315.pdf

This is true for virtually ever state I've seen. See California's guidelines for example:

Quote:
Outbreak procedures have been developed by the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of
Public Health. The County of Riverside Department of Public Health, Disease Control Branch has formulated this
manual to assist school staff during measles outbreaks.
Confirmed and suspect measles cases should be reported immediately to Disease Control by telephone at: (951)
358-5107, during regular business hours; (951) 782-2974, after hours and holidays, ask to speak with the second
call Duty Officer. Identify all Susceptible Pupils in the Schools
Your school should have a system in place for fast and easy identification of susceptible students without having to
check all records at the time of an outbreak or identification of a single case of confirmed or suspect case of measles.
The list of susceptible students must be provided to Disease Control within 48 hours.
http://www.rivco-diseasecontrol.org/...n-2%202014.pdf

From the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services:

Quote:
1-007.04 Responsibilities of Schools: School nurses or those acting in the capacity of a
school nurse must, in accordance with state and federal statutes:
1. Notify the local public health department or the DHHS Division of Public Health
of cases or suspected cases of reportable diseases as indicated in 173 NAC 1-
004.01 and 1-004.02, or outbreaks and suspected outbreaks of diseases as
indicated in 173 NAC 1-004.01B affecting students and/or other school-affiliated
personnel and which present a reasonable threat to the safety or health of a
student and/or other school-affiliated personnel; and
2. Cooperate with public health authorities in obtaining information needed to
facilitate the investigation of cases and suspected cases, or outbreaks and
suspected outbreaks of diseases affecting students and/or other school affiliated
personnel.

Measles is listed in that document as one of the diseases that is supposed to be reported immediately.

http://www.sos.ne.gov/rules-and-regs...Chapter-01.pdf

So, it doesn't have to be a confirmed outbreak before public health measures meant to reduce the risk of spread can occur. Further, it doesn't matter how far apart the schools are from each other if the suspected measles case came into contact with the boy in discussion at a soccer tournament.

It is pretty standard from my experience that you must attend school that day to go to a practice/game at the school. I haven't heard a statement from the coach - it is possible the son made a scene about not being able to practice or attend the game which resulted in disciplinary action and loss of his starter position. Who knows?

Interesting that people seem to be focusing on the soccer team and not the federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination. I have to agree with the school that this is not a case of religious discrimination. The school was advised by multiple health departments to keep any susceptible students possibly exposed at home and away from the rest of the school. The school administrators are not public health experts, thus it is reasonable that they follow the recommendation of the health department and may have even got themselves into legal trouble had they refused to do so. It just so happens their son was the only one unvaccinated on the team. That is not evidence of religious discrimination. I really don't see this lawsuit being successful. To me, it sounds like proper protocol was followed regarding a suspected measles case and that the school's hands were essentially tied once the health department got involved.

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#7 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 10:31 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacozy View Post
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056...0775#t=article There is a study discussing the Indiana church outbreak. At the time, it was the largest outbreak in nearly a decade.
Thanks for the link.


Quote:
On May 15, 2005, an unvaccinated 17-year-old girl returned to Indiana after a church-mission trip to a Romanian orphanage where she had unknowingly become infected with measles. Despite having prodromal symptoms, she attended a large gathering of church members the day after her return.
No mention of a picnic or the gathering being outdoors which was your contention in your first post.

Quote:
During the outbreak period, 66 persons who were suspected to have measles were identified, of whom 32 (48 percent) were determined not to have measles because they either had a negative laboratory test for acute measles infection or were not epidemiologically linked to a patient with laboratory-confirmed measles. Of the remaining 34 persons, 14 (41 percent) had laboratory-confirmed measles and 20 (59 percent) were epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case.
Hopefully someone can explain to me what the following means:

Quote:
We obtained specimens for viral isolation and molecular characterization from 14 patients, and measles virus was isolated in 6.
What does that mean for the other 8?

As one would expect if a family doesn't vaccinate - 24/34 (or 71% )of the people they are claiming had measles came from just 4 households. Sounds fairly contained.

Quote:
Although 20 patients were infectious and interacted with the surrounding community before public health authorities were notified and instituted measures to contain the disease, no known transmission occurred in community or health care settings, with the exception of the hospital phlebotomist.

Quote:
Complications
Three patients (9 percent) were hospitalized — a 45-year-old man and a 6-year-old girl required intravenous rehydration, and the hospital phlebotomist, who had no coexisting conditions but did have a history of smoking, required six days of ventilator support for pneumonia complicated by the acute respiratory distress syndrome. Sixteen patients (47 percent) had diarrhea, and two (6 percent) had otitis media. No deaths occurred.
I wonder if that experience was enough for the phlebotomist to finally give up smoking?

So presently it still sounds like the source for "it happened outdoors" is PO who is on tape telling doctors to be treasurers of the truth in front of the media and IIRC also misspoke about other outbreaks.


All bolds mine.
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#8 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 11:14 AM
 
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I read the article to see if there was anything I missed. My initial response was going on Tea summary.

Now that I have read the article...my response does not change much.

I support excluding non-vaxxed kids from school under certain conditions, in order to prevent outbreaks. Those conditions include:

An outbreak or known exposure to non benign highly contagious air borne diseases for which there are vaccines that are effective at preventing disease transmission. Measles make the cut - things like pertussis, flu, hep b and chicken pox do not.

Being outside does not preclude this, nor does a measles case being a strongly suspected as opposed to confirmed case....but this might: "Furthermore, according to Engen, the letters he received about the potential exposure to measles said the North Platte child was only suspected to be at the soccer games, not confirmed." At the very least someone should have confirmed the child who may have had measles was at the game before suspending Engen's son. This should not be hard to do.

_______

Aside form the above - and only based on the article in the Op - I think the father is coming across as a bit of an entitled a$$.

"Renner said she offered to meet with Engen and assured him she would objectively review the complaint and render her opinion. Renner said that Engen’s complaint noted that his son had lost his starter position on the KHS varsity soccer team due to the exclusion, and was asking for an apology, compensation, the starter position and discipline of the coach in return" and "When asked by telephone today about the outcome of the final grievance, Engen said, “It’s kangaroo court. It means nothing. I’m filing federal grievances as we speak. The school board could have resolved this for under $50,000 last night and they just cost the taxpayers about $500,000.”

I mean, really. Compensation for a 3 day hiatus from school? Snort.

If it turns out that his "soccer starting" status has changed for no good reason post the vaccine induced suspension (as is implied here: "According to Engen, the boy was penalized by the KHS soccer coach following the exemption and was only asked to start two games following his absence, despite being called a “tremendous” player by the coach..." then yes, the coach should apologize and maybe face disciplinary action, but this would almost be impossible to prove.

I do think there might be some issues around privacy that could use addressing. The coach should not have known that the student was off school due to his vaccination status - he should have just known he was off with school permission.
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#9 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 11:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I read the article to see if there was anything I missed. My initial response was going on Tea summary.

Now that I have read the article...my response does not change much.

I support excluding non-vaxxed kids from school under certain conditions, in order to prevent outbreaks. Those conditions include:

An outbreak or known exposure to non benign highly contagious air borne diseases for which there are vaccines that are effective at preventing disease transmission. Measles make the cut - things like pertussis, flu, hep b and chicken pox do not.
Responding to you and @teacozy , I think a legal case can certainly be made for requiring the reporting of suspected cases of vaccine-targeted diseases, but not for booting the chiropractor's son from school.

But if they're going to suspend one unvaccinated teen from a school 100 miles away from the site of the one isolated, suspicious-looking rash, consistency would call from the health department to exercise the same policy to all school-age children within a 100-mile radius of the teen with suspected measles. (Schools get together for all sorts of extracurricular activities, after all). But to do so would be overkill, in my view.
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#10 of 10 Old 06-19-2017, 12:47 PM
 
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I've been reading the comments from the article in the OP, well skimming them really. I think kathymuggle's assessment of the dad may be spot on. I really can't stand it when people call other people snowflakes...but I digress.

I did read that one of his objections is that the soccer match was on 4/8 but the suspension started on 4/18. It does seem a little suspect then that the son's school would host the school the alleged measles case was from on the first day of his son's suspension. His son might have been the only student with a religious exemption but were there other students with medical exemptions on file? And if so, then were they asked to stay away from school as well? And if not, why not?
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