(The Center Square) – Another lawsuit has been filed against California Gov. Gavin Newsom over his education policies, this time by parents in the northern Shasta County.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit also are state Controller Xavier Becerra, State Health Director Sonia Angell, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
The lawsuit was filed in Shasta County Superior Court by the Freedom Foundation on behalf of four parents and their children. It claims that Newsom’s executive orders and subsequent policies violate Article III and IX of the California Constitution.
“The State of California’s response to COVID-19 prevents students, especially the disadvantaged, from accessing a quality education,” the complaint states.
The governor’s order, N-60-20, issued on May 4, requiring Californians to obey all state and local public health directives and orders, including the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) guidance for schools, “unjustifiably prevent schools in Shasta County from fully reopening,” the complaint states. “Students require services and resources that cannot be delivered remotely.”
Article IX in the state constitution stipulates that the diffusion of knowledge and intelligence be of sufficient quality to preserve the rights and liberties of the people, which are specified in detail in the Constitution.
“The Legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each district at least six months in every year…” it reads.
The complaint asks the court to prevent the governor’s order from being enforced.
Last month, a group of private religious schools in which 500,000 students are enrolled also sued the governor. Plaintiffs include three Los Angeles-based Jewish schools, Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn Toras Emes Academy, Samuel A. Fryer Yavneh Academy, and Gindi Maimonides Academy, and two Christian schools, Montebello Christian School of Montebello and Saint Joseph Academy of San Marcos.
Mike Porrazzo, the attorney representing roughly 250-300 private schools and churches in California, including Montebello Christian Schools, told ABC 7 News, "The claims are similar to those being filed in the public school lawsuit, but we are of course including the First Amendment, free exercise of religion claims as well.”
Several Southern California parents represented by the Center For American Liberty also sued Newsom last month over his school closures policy.
“All three of my children have experienced adverse effects from the current distance learning model that has been mandated by our local schools,” Shasta County parent Beth Watt and plaintiff said.
“All of my children were straight-A students before distance learning began,” she added. “This spring my children received a "P" [passing grade] for all subjects, causing them to lose all motivation and desire to excel in school.”
Her son is now taking anxiety medication for the first time in his life, she shared, explaining that online virtual attempts to educate are “causing serious mental health issues” in addition to the academic crisis. “Our children deserve better than this; our tax-funded education system is failing students.”
Plaintiffs in all cases present examples of similar instances in which students are suffering from not being able to learn, from parents not having a choice, and from school districts being stifled by state policies.
“Governor Newsom has repeatedly told us to ‘trust the science’,” Mariah Gondeiro, Freedom Foundation attorney representing Watt, said. “It is time for Newsom to take his own advice. Thousands of educators, parents and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics say students need to be in school.”
Gondeiro points to numerous studies that have been conducted worldwide that have found that children are not COVID-19 transmitters. She adds that “keeping kids home seems to be more politics than science,” pointing to recent remarks made by Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
Recorded on tape, Ferrer said, “I don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to a Tier 2 or to reopening K-12 schools at least during, uh, at least until after the election.”