SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — More than a dozen California parents are suing Governor Gavin Newsom over his school closure order. The lawsuit aims to reopen schools across the state, but the state is fighting back.
"This is a human rights crisis. Our children are being denied a fair and appropriate education,” said Christine Ruiz.
Ruiz said her two children both have special needs and are no match for distance learning.
“When you do speech therapy you need to look a child in the eye,” she said.
She was satisfied when their Los Angeles County school proposed a hybrid model with reduced hours and class sizes.
But that changed last month under Governor Newsom’s order to keep schools in high-risk counties closed until they can meet certain public health metrics.
"Our school districts have followed the CDC protocol and procedures along with L.A. County. They were set to open. Why can’t we open?” she asked.
When she couldn’t get answers from the governor’s office, she decided to join a lawsuit with 13 other California parents. They’re seeking a preliminary injunction preventing the governor from enforcing his order, claiming it violates their children’s constitutional rights to an education.
“I’m listening to the doctors, pediatricians that say it’s imperative and necessary for our children to go back to school,” said Ruiz.
But in a formal opposition brief filed, the state says, parents are relying on “inaccurate and outdated beliefs” that school-age children do not spread COVID-19.
In their own official response, parents fired back saying, “The public has no interest in keeping schools closed this fall because in-person learning does not meaningfully increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.”
But as parents nationwide protest reopening orders, some schools have already encountered speed bumps.
In Georgia, days after a photo surfaced of a jam-packed hallway at North Paulding High School, at least nine coronavirus cases were confirmed there prompting a temporary switch to remote learning.
“I can only speak on what’s going on in my district and my state,” Ruiz said.
She said she trusts that schools here will take necessary CDC-outlined precautions to keep children safe in school.
“If I didn't believe in them, I would never drop off my non-verbal child to them every single day,” she said.
The rest will be up to a judge to decide.
There is a hearing set for Monday in Los Angeles.