Eau Claire County parent sues over school’s lack of COVID protocols

MADISON, Wis. (AP)/LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Another Wisconsin parent has filed a federal lawsuit over the lack of COVID-19 protocols at her son’s school.

Gina Kildahl filed the suit Monday in Madison. She wants an injunction forcing the Fall Creek School District to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 guidelines for schools.

The lawsuit alleges the district ended its mitigation policies for the 2021-22 school year and two of her son’s classmates tested positive for the disease in September, infecting her son.

She says he caught the virus at his elementary school because the district is not taking enough mitigation steps.

Kildahl’s attorney, Frederick Melms, says his client’s suit makes three claims.

  1. The government failed to protect students from state-created danger
  2. Because the district implemented COVID-19 mitigation strategies last year, they still have an obligation to protect students this school year.
  3. Because the district is hosting what could be deemed a daily super-spreader event, the school is obligated to protect those who attend.

La Crosse attorney Brent Smith, who is not involved in this suit, believes the case will likely be dismissed.

“What this school district elected to do, or not to do, is more likely to fall under a discretionary act. And when something is discretionary instead of mandatory, it makes it difficult for somebody to bring the case and be successful against a school district,” Smith said.

Attorney Melms says that his client is not seeking money; but wants the district to follow the CDC’s protocols.

“We’re looking for a federal judge to order the noncompliant school districts in Wisconsin to start implementing COVID mitigation measures,” Melms said.

Above all, this mom wants to better protect her community.

“I am just hoping they start masking and take some responsibility to keep our kids safe in school,” Kildahl said.

Though Smith says Kildahl’s case faces an uphill battle– it may fulfill one goal.

“I think it’s maybe to bring attention to the issue. I mean, there is a way. There are ways to get around the discretionary/mandatory discussion that we just had,” Smith said.

The school district of Fall Creek told News 8 Now that it had heard of the suit, but received no documentation of the claim and had no comment.

The filing mirrors a lawsuit a woman filed in federal court on Oct. 5 seeking an order forcing the Waukesha School District to comply with COVID guidelines after classmates infected her son.

Melms says his clients hope these suits will require schools throughout Wisconsin to enforce COVID mitigation measures.

The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC is funding both lawsuits. The company’s owner, Kirk Bangstad, posted on Facebook on Sunday that he wants to sue every Wisconsin school board that doesn’t follow CDC guidelines.

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