California Religious Schools File Lawsuit against Governor Newsom’s School Closure Order

Written by on August 20, 2020

On Monday, a lawsuit was filed by multiple religious schools that have taken issue with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent school closure order.

According to The christian Post, the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, aims to obtain an injunction on the order.

Private Schools from various faith backgrounds are listed on the complaint including three Jewish schools based in Los Angeles and two christian schools. Individual parents are also listed on the suit.

In part, the suit asserts that the “Plaintiffs bring this particular suit to advance their rights as religious schools, parents, students, and educators to choose — again, consistent with sound science, data, and their own individual circumstances — to hold in-person religious education in a manner consistent with their faith.”

It continues, “Our laws are clear that government shall make no law abridging the free exercise of religion. Laws that treat religious institutions, including schools, unequally must be narrowly tailored to minimize the burden they place on a fundamental right.”

Taking issue with how “similarly situated entities” have been permitted to reopen, the suit argues that “Parents have the right to direct the education of their children in the religious setting of their choice.”

Sebastian Petz, superintendent of Montebello christian, told ABC News’ Los Angeles affiliate that the decision not to allow his school to reopen will have an impact on the surrounding community.

“Public schools will always be around. They have state funding. We do not, so if we don’t open our doors, there’s a good chance that we may never be able to serve our low-income, poor, minority families going forward for the rest of our existence,” Petz asserted.

St. Augustine High School, an all-boys Catholic school in San Diego, also filed a lawsuit against Newsom over the order. The school is seeking to resume in-person classes on August 25.

According to the San Diego Tribune, the school contended that since they were able to successfully reopen with 400 students for their summer school and athletic programs, the school should be allowed to reopen for the academic school year.

In July, Newsom issued the order and complete guidelines from the California Department of Public Health as the state continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Public and private schools cannot reopen if their county was placed on a monitoring list that keeps track of COVID-19 cases. As an alternative, teachers and students would have to continue through distance learning.

Schools that can reopen must wait 14 consecutive days after the county was removed from the list. Schools that were not placed on the monitoring list prior to the 14 days can also reopen. 

Reopened schools must require the wearing face coverings or masks and enforce social distancing.


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Photo courtesy: Element5 Digital/Unsplash

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.

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