RUTHERFORDTON — The Rutherford County Board of Education and Foothills Health District are being sued because of COVID-19 mitigation protocols in the Rutherford County Schools (RCS). A lawsuit was filed in Superior Court this week.
Kelly Wiggen, Shellica Wood, Michael Osborne, and group known as North Carolina Citizens for Constitutional Rights, LLC are listed as plaintiffs in court documents. Defendants in the suit are the Board of Education, Superintendent David Sutton, Foothills Health District, and Foothills Health District Director Karen Powell.
The plaintiffs are claiming that school quarantines have been illegally ordered by RCS per state law. They claim that RCS does not have the authority to order quarantines, and that “severe harm” has come about as a result of the quarantines.
The plaintiffs also claim “...The actions of the defendants have been arbitrary in issuing quarantines, in the scope and matter of quarantining students, and administering quarantines in a haphazard format.”
The plaintiffs are seeking injunctions, “...forever barring defendants from issuing quarantines as their actions are arbitrary and capricious and in violation of North Carolina General Statute 130A-145.”
The plaintiffs are also asking for financial compensation, “ for damages in excess of $25,000,” as well as attorney fees.
In addition, the plaintiffs are asking for a trial by jury.
This isn’t Wiggen’s first time expressing her discontent with RCS. In September, 2021, Wiggen and others angrily addressed a Board of Education meeting, which led to some being ejected from the meeting by security.
At that meeting, Wiggen told the board she had removed her children from Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy because of that school’s mask mandate. She also criticized the RCS quarantine procedures, and called the board members dictators.
Other school boards across North Carolina are dealing with similar complaints. Defenders of the state’s guidance say “quarantine” isn’t the correct word. School systems are “excluding” students or staff from school when they are sick or have the potential to spread illness because of close contact, which attorneys say is within their right.
A true “quarantine” would mean restricting people to a particular location, thereby restricting any movement.
School officials say they cannot comment on pending litigation.