(CNN) — The family of a third-grader in Connecticut has filed a lawsuit against Milford Public Schools, saying their daughter was banned from school for 21 days amid Ebola fears when she returned from a trip to Lagos, Nigeria, for a family wedding.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges that Ikeoluwa Opayemi was not allowed to return to Meadowside Elementary School in Milford “based on fears” of the deadly Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Most of the more than 13,700 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in those three countries, according to the World Health Organization. The United Nations’ health authority projected that deaths from the virus have exceeded 5,000.
“I think it’s outrageous how this child was treated,” said Gary Phelan, the attorney for the girl’s family. “At some point, making a medical decision has to be based on medical information, not fear.”
In a statement Wednesday, Milford Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Feser denied that the school’s response was improper.
“In addressing this situation, at all times, my staff and I proceeded in good faith to respond to this public health issue,” the statement said. “We acted in the best interest of all of our students and staff.”
Phelan said the decision to keep Ikeoluwa out of school came after complaints from parents of her classmates.
The girl’s father, Stephen Opayemi, was told by city officials that if he tried to bring his daughter to school, police would remove her, the lawyer said.
Ikeoluwa has not been diagnosed with Ebola and has not exhibited symptoms, the lawsuit said. In addition, the city of Milford refused her father’s offer to have himself and his daughter tested for Ebola.
‘Severe emotional distress’ alleged
On October 20, the World Health Organization declared that Nigeria, which is several hundred miles from the epicenter of the outbreak, had contained Ebola after 19 cases, including seven deaths. The declaration came after 42 days with no new Ebola cases reported.