MENOMONIE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – A Menomonie family is demanding the school district make their daughter’s learning environment safer. They’re concerned school officials aren’t doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Thomas Pearson and his partner want the Menomonie area school district to make their daughter’s school safer.

Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, who represents the family said, “Basically, the school district this school year has just refused to follow CDC and state and local public health guidelines.”

He says the district made masking optional and is not following post-exposure quarantine recommendations.

“Under special education law, my client has a right to what is known as a ‘free appropriate public education.’ a ‘free appropriate public education,’ it is our opinion includes the right not to be at risk from getting a very serious illness when there are things that can be done by the school district to prevent that.”

According to the CDC, people with down syndrome are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. Spitzer-Resnick says Pearson kept his daughter out of school until she was fully vaccinated last month. However, he still feels she isn’t safe. That’s why Spitzer-Resnick is representing them in a due process hearing allowed under federal and state special education laws.

Unlike a traditional case, the hearing does not happen in court. It’s decided by an administrative law judge in the state division of hearings and appeals. While Spitzer-Resnick says these types of hearings are commonplace, he doesn’t know of any cases using special education laws to enforce COVID mitigation protocols. And he thinks the decision could impact more than Menomonie students.

“I assure you that if we win this case, school districts will take notice, not just around the state but around the country.”

Spitzer-Resnick says the judge plans to issue her ruling on March first. Spitzer-Resnick says the district has agreed to provide Pearson’s daughter with after-school tutoring to make up for the time she missed earlier this school year. We reached out to the Menomonie school district administrator, but we haven’t heard back.