A Kenosha Unified School District parent, Pastor Jim Roemke, filed a federal lawsuit yesterday in the Eastern District of Wisconsin concerning the district’s policy that forces all students to wear masks. The Kenosha School Board, the Interim Superintendent, Beth Ormseth, and Yolanda Adams – board president are all named as defendants.
Pastor Jim Roemke of Messiah Lutheran church here in Kenosha told the KCE why he filed the action. Before the start of the 2021/2022 school year, Roemke was hoping that the Kenosha School Board would make masks optional. They board however, made masks mandatory for all students.
Before school started Roemke called his daughters’ school principal and told her his concerns. Angela Andersson (D) assured Roemke that the school would work with his family. Roemke told her he wasn’t going to force his daughters to wear masks in school. Roemke told Lena and Eva that they didn’t have to wear masks to school if they didn’t want to. He gave them the option. He also mentioned that they would not be disciplined at home for any discipline they received at school for not wearing their masks. Lena would later tell her father that she wasn’t going to wear masks because she “hated them” and they were unconformable. Lena began to receive threats at school from teachers and students, telling her that she could be responsible for getting others sick.
After Lena refused to wear her mask, Assistant principal Brianne McPhee (D), at the direction of Andersson sent Lena home from school, causing the student to get behind on her work. This would happen at least two other times. “We’re just following the rules,” McPhee said to Roemke. “This sounds historically like ‘just following orders’, ” Roemke snapped back.
Roemke called the KUSD administration building and spoke to William Haithcock, Chief of School leadership. Haithcock assured Roemke that he could apply for a religious exemption and he would consider it. Two applications were made utilizing the fourth commandment – Honor your father and mother. “Parents are, according to the bible, the best advocates for their children’s needs and should have the final say regarding safety and wellness for their children,” the lawsuit reads. Roemke would never hear back from Haithcock. Instead, Roemke says, he got a denial letter two days later from an attorney.
Roemke’s younger daughter Eva also chose not to wear her mask, but it seems she was shown more Grace from her teachers.
The lawsuit asserts 7 claims of action citing violations of the bill of rights and is seeking the court declare the mask policy unconstitutional, an order prohibiting KTEC administration from sending his daughters home, attorneys fees, and other relief just and proper.
KUSD didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.