Education

Parents Appeal To Reopen California Schools After Initial Suit Dismissed

(Photo by CAROLYN COLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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California parents filed an appeal Monday at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to reopen schools the state has kept closed after their initial suit was dismissed.

The parents, represented by the Center for American Liberty (CAL), initially filed their lawsuit in district court in July 2020. The case, Brach v. Newsom, was dismissed on Dec. 1 after the district court judge ruled that the “[p]laintiffs have not established that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment contains a fundamental right to basic education,” as explained in the CAL’s brief requesting relief at the Circuit Court.

The California parents argue, however, that due to evidence showing a lack of COVID-19 transmission between children and adults, schools should be allowed to reopen. “Under any heightened standard [of legal review] the orders should be enjoined because in-person education, when conducted responsibly, does not threaten the health of the community,” they argue in the filing.

If successful, the suit would return the authority to open schools to counties and local school boards, the CAL explained in a press release.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s introduced a new tiered opening system for the state in early December. The system splits California into five regions and creates a four-tier system, according to ABC7. The tiers range from stay-at-home orders at the most restrictive to 50% capacity in most businesses at the least.

The new tier system allows counties to reopen schools once they have spent 14 days in the red, or second most restrictive, tier according to EdSource. The purple tier, the most restrictive, closes schools to in-person instruction while orange and yellow tier counties may also allow in-person instruction.

54 out of California’s 58 counties were in the purple on Dec. 29, placing more than 99% of public school students in remote learning, according to EdSource. (RELATED: California Gov. Gavin Newsom Reportedly Attends Dinner Party That Went Against California’s Coronavirus Advice)

The CAL lawyers argue in their lawsuit that closure “consequences have predictably fallen hardest on the most vulnerable — students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are Black and Latino.”

Democratic California Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell argued in a press release, “Distance learning is ineffective for many students. We must bring students back into the classroom with safety measures in place as soon as possible to prevent further learning loss.”