On Wednesday, nine California parents and the civil liberties group Center for American Liberty sued Governor Gavin Newsom and the state of California over a plan unveiled by Newsom last Friday to close most in-person schooling in California for the fall semester.
Nine Parents and Center for American Liberty sue California
The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, had first been announced on Monday by Center for American Liberty Founder and Lawyer Harmeet Dhillon. The parents filed the lawsuit because they claim that, under the state’s guidelines, their children are not receiving the “basic minimum education” guaranteed by the state Constitution. Specifically, the suit says that distance learning does not constitute the amount of education needed.
The suit also argues that California is also breaking the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, noting that different counties have different amounts of in-school and distance learning based on the county COVID-19 watchlist.
Dhillon has said that local school boards and parents should be deciding whether or not to reopen schools, not having counties or the state decide across the board.
“The governor took that choice away,” said Dhillon on Wednesday. “It’s devastating and it must be stopped. That is not a decision that the state can or should make.”
“All of these children we saw in the spring semester of this year were failed by the state of California and its educational plans. I frankly thought we were reaching the end of having to litigate these issues in the courts.”
In addition to parent and school board choice, Dhillon has also said that, after talks with parents and teachers, that remote learning doesn’t work, and that children are being negatively affected, with minorities, lower-income people, and those with special needs being hurt the most.
“Even parents with the most motivated and academically successful children reported depression, anxiety, withdrawal, behavioral issues, a lack of motivation,” added Dhillon.
Many educators say remote learning can save lives from COVID-19
While the state has yet to respond to the new lawsuit, many educators have said that while many prefer in-person classes as well, this is being done in the name of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that distance-learning can work.
“We had, what, 12,000 new cases today?,” asked middle school teacher Tasha Irving in a California Globe interview. “Schools congregate a lot of people, not just kids. A lot of adults work close by here too. Teachers, admin staff, nurses, assistants, janitors, and so many more. Not to mention parents coming by for pick-ups and things like that. Do you really want schools to reopen and then explain to your students a few weeks later about how some of their parents or teachers got sick from it?”
“It’s about public health. Different counties have different rules because some are more rural and don’t need as much protection like, say, LA or other districts with high numbers of cases. And they are still getting the class time needed remotely. Granted, it’s not the best system, but it’s staying at home for school for a few months against costing more people their lives and health.”
“Every time I see a parent on TV saying ‘Take my kids’ I get angry. They aren’t thinking about the consequences there.”
“Right now none of my districts schools will be open and some of us have had parents call us asking if they can take their kids to our home instead. I don’t know what is wrong with those people.”
“It’s all for health safety until we get out of this pandemic. There’s no spin or anything here. We don’t want to help spread this. If they’re open, then they become like prisons or those parties people in Florida had: breeding grounds for COVID-19.”
The suit is expected to be heard in the Los Angeles district court in the coming weeks.