California Supreme Court denies O.C. Board of Education petition to reopen school campuses

The Orange County Board of Education’s bid to force California to re-open school campuses for in-person learning ended Wednesday when the California Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Board of Education President Ken Williams expressed disappointment with the ruling.

“I am sorry that the state Supreme Court did not view that Governor Newsom has abused his emergency powers that are given to governors under a real healthcare crisis. Our families and children are suffering from not going to school.”

Last month, the board, along with a few parents and several private schools across California, took the unusual step of filing legal actions directly with the state Supreme Court.

Two lawsuits claimed that actions by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health to curb the spread of coronavirus were unconstitutional and violated the right to equal access to education. Newsom’s order effectively closed most school campuses to in-person instruction, something the lawsuits argued is particularly tough on children with disabilities and low-income families who count on children being in school during the day while parents are at work.

The petitions asked the court to give parents the option of choosing whether their children could go back to campus for instruction. One lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Orange County Board of Education, several parents and the Palm Lane Charter School in Anaheim. The second was filed on behalf of private schools in other parts of the state, including Calvary Chapel in San Jose.

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