Local News

Durham school ordered to readmit student put on home study because of Ebola concern

Posted November 14, 2014

— A private Durham school that prohibited a student from attending classes for 21 days after the teen's father traveled to Nigeria was ordered Friday to readmit the teen immediately.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson said officials with Mt. Zion Christian Academy overreacted to concerns about the Ebola virus when they said 16-year-old Samuel Ubezonu, who did not travel abroad, had to have home instruction as a precaution.

The boy’s father, Somto Ubezonu, went to Nigeria in October. The school had planned on letting the boy return Tuesday, when the 21-day period would be over.

The Durham Department of Public Health sent a letter to the school, saying the home study was not necessary and travelers from Nigeria are not considered at risk for the deadly virus.

But in an Oct. 28 letter to the boy’s parents, school Superintendent Donald Q. Fozard Sr. wrote, “We value your family and all of our families and consider it our foremost responsibility to maintain a facility that is both physically and environmentally safe for all.”

School officials did not attend the court hearing Friday.

“The bottom line is, we wish we weren’t here,” Somto Ubenozu's attorney, Dieter Mauch, said in court. “Certainly, everyone has a health concern about infectious diseases, and Ebola in particular, but we can’t just act out of fear.”

Ubezonu said his son hasn’t heard concerns or received negative messages from fellow students. Mauch said in court that the family would be seeking damages against the school.

"It has been terrible, horrifying for myself," said Ubezonu, who is a native of Nigeria. “My son was given unfair treatment from the school, which is highly uncalled for.”



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  • LetsBeFair Nov 14, 2014

    I'd sue.

  • Hubris Nov 14, 2014

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    I agree. Can't be too safe you know when it comes to kids. Agree 100%.

  • Doug Hanthorn Nov 14, 2014
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    You would hold your kid out from school because another kid who DIDN'T go to Nigeria, which DOESN'T have ebola was in school? How far are you fear mongering ignorant people going to take this? I looked at a map of Africa. Wanna quarantine me? I knew a guy from Ghana about 8 years ago. Wanna quarantine me? Can't be too safe you know when it comes to kids.

  • Esther Lumsdon Nov 14, 2014
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    The father of the student traveled to Nigeria. Nigeria has not had a case of Ebola for over 2 months and has been declared free of Ebola. If anyone on the father's flight home had been contagious, they would have had a fever and could not have gotten on the flight. There is no risk here. Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea have active cases of Ebola, not Nigeria.

  • 678devilish Nov 14, 2014

    Right decision judge. School jump the gun.

  • Classified Nov 14, 2014

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    If anyone wants to voluntarily keep their child out of school that's well within their rights but no one has the right to keep this kid out of school simply to placate public hysteria and that's why the judge ruled as he did. Correct move on his part.

  • bottleworks Nov 14, 2014

    I hope the family gets a large sum of money for damages. The school is completely out of line. Absurd!

  • raleighboy524 Nov 14, 2014

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    The student in question DID NOT go to Nigeria.

  • Dona Hill Nov 14, 2014
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    Nigeria was only declared Ebola free after having the disease there on October 20th by WHO. Not sure when the man was in Nigeria. It just said October.

  • infinti34 Nov 14, 2014

    This school is unjustified. Nigeria is Ebola-free. ZERO cases. so even if his father traveled there - there is no chance he would get EBOLA. DUH!