ALLEGAN, Mich. — The Allegan County health department sent out a notice to parents whose children were exposed to COVID-19 warning them that failure to follow quarantine protocol could put a child at risk for being placed in protective custody.
Jeff Koon, a parent of a middle school student and high school student at Wayland Union schools, said that he didn’t receive the letter but a friend of his did.
“It feels very threatening to receive a letter like that,” Koon said.
He said parents have been fighting with the health department since they implemented a public health order and mandated masks for K-6 students in schools.
"Then to get a letter like this, a warning notice from the health department that if you fail to comply to their order that your son or daughter could be taken away from you,” said Koon.
Anastase Markou, an attorney with Levine & Levine, said parents have rights and that it's up to the courts to decide through the legal system if a child goes into protective services.
“I don’t believe you can take someone’s child away just because the child has been exposed to COVID-19 and the parent has not followed the specific request of Allegan County,” Markou said.
Markou said parents could face other penalties however there would have to be a drastic situation for parents to have their children taken away.
“I think the letter is a little broad. I think they went too far in the way they worded the letter,” Markou said.
News Channel 3 called and left four messages with the Allegan County health department for comment and so far have not gotten a response.
State Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, is calling on the board of commissioners to fire the Allegan County health department director because of the warning letter.
News Channel 3 called and emailed all members of the board of commissioners and received the following statements from Commissioner Jim Storey and Commissioner Rick Cain:
Statement from Commissioner Storey:
“The board does not have the authority alone to fire the health department director. Parents can be assured that it won’t go as far as taking kids and putting them into protective custody.”
Statement from Commissioner Cain:
“I wasn’t happy to see the warning notice. I also am not in favor of the mask mandate, I wanted to leave it up to the local school districts. The board is still in discussion with our legal attorney about the mask mandate and the letter.”