SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — The Orange County Board of Education says it will sue Gov. Gavin Newsom and California’s public health officer over state orders preventing public schools from holding in-person classes.
The 4-0 vote came during a closed session of the board’s special meeting over Zoom Tuesday night. The lawsuit is being filed by Tyler & Bursch, LLP, of Murrieta in Riverside County, with support by the nonprofit legal organization, Advocates for Faith & Freedom.
“California children have a constitutional right to both an education and equal protection under the law. The governor denied them these rights and did so\ without adequately considering the disparate impact these restrictions would have on the disadvantaged,” said attorney Jennifer Bursch of Tyler & Bursch, LLP. “We brought this lawsuit to protect the single mom and her children, children whose parents do not read or write English, and children with special needs.”
A group of parents is also suing Newsom, challenging the order.
Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares said he was disappointed in the board’s decision to sue.
“This lawsuit continues the pattern of a highly litigious board majority that seems to have no qualms about diverting time, energy and financial resources from students and programs to satisfy their own ideological interests,” he said in a statement.
Miljares said he and local school district leaders had developed a guide to safely reopening schools that is in line with the California Department of Public Health.
Earlier this month, Newsom handed down guidelines that required schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list to remain closed for in-person learning. All of Southern California is on the monitoring list, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
Positive cases in Orange County are approaching 35,000, and 581 people in the county have died of COVID-19 to date. Hospitalizations in the county are also on the rise.
The Orange County Board of Education earlier this month approved a non-binding recommendation for reopening schools that would not require physical distancing or wearing masks. One of the county’s largest districts, Santa Ana Unified, almost immediately rejected that advice, as did other school officials.
“The board majority’s recommendations are not binding and La Habra City School District will not open our schools under these conditions,” said that district’s superintendent, Joanne Culverhouse. “The health and safety of our staff and students will guide the decisions we make for reopening our schools.”
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