On July 17, 2020 Governor Newsom announced that in more than 30 counties across California, school facilities will remain closed to start the fall semester—leaving roughly 80% of the state’s student population without access to a basic education.
Four days later, the Center for American Liberty, on behalf of plaintiffs Matthew Brach, Alison Walsh, John Ziegler, Kenneth Fleming, Erica Sephton, Lacee Beaulieu, Jesse Petrilla, Roger Hackett, and Christine Ruiz, in coordination with the Dhillon Law Group filed a landmark lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom challenging his order barring in-classroom education in 32 counties and for 80% of California’s children.
In these counties, education will be relegated to online distance learning — which for too many families — particularly those in minority communities, the growing financially distressed population of California, and families of special needs children — means no learning at all. Governor Newsom’s unilateral act even bars parents in most of the state from taking their kids to a private school to obtain the education the state denies!
The Governor’s closure of schools violates California’s constitutional guarantee to a basic education, federal due process and equal protection guarantees, and the federal right to an effective education for disabled children.
What’s more, the Governor’s order flies in the face of science, data, and the knowledge learned from the failed online education experiment of the 2020 spring semester in California’s schools, in which large portions of the children were unable to log on and access online learning — or if they could, experienced at best ineffective and at worst, nonexistent instruction.
Plaintiffs in this case represent families from across the state whose rights to a basic education are being denied. Their children have already suffered academically, socially, and emotionally from stunted online education in the spring, and who rightfully fear compounded injury to academic progress and physical/mental health and development in the year ahead.
This lawsuit was filed in United States District Court for the Central District of California seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
A three judge panel at the Ninth Circuit ruled that with respect to children attending private schools, Governor Newsom’s shutdown of schools violated parents’ Due Process rights to decide where and how to educate their children.
The Ninth Circuit will hear this case again, this time en banc, in late January 2022.