Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to limit in-person schooling in response to the COVID-19 virus is already hurting California’s students. Depending on the outcome of a newly filed lawsuit, it has the potential to hurt the state, too.
The suit was filed in Shasta County Superior Court by the Freedom Foundation on behalf of three local parents who are suing on behalf of their children. The Complaint alleges the school policy of having students in class part-time denies students their constitutional right to a quality education as enshrined in the California Constitution.
“All three of my children have experienced adverse effects from the current distance learning model that has been mandated by our local schools,” explained Beth Watt, one of the parents Freedom Foundation is representing. “All of my children were straight-A students before distance learning began. This spring my children received a “P” for all subjects, causing them to lose all motivation and desire to excel in school.”
“They are frustrated to tears over the lack of instruction,” continued Mrs. Watt. “They are upset trying to navigate poor connectivity to get through their assigned online curriculum. My son is on anxiety medication for the first time in his life. Online education is causing serious mental health issues, along with an academic crisis the students find themselves in. Our children deserve better than this; our tax-funded education system is failing students.”
“Governor Newsom has repeatedly told us to ‘trust the science’,” said Mariah Gondeiro, attorney for the Freedom Foundation. “It is time for Newsom to take his own advice. Thousands of educators, parents and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say students need to be in school.”
Gondeiro pointed to numerous studies conducted worldwide that reveal children are not COVID-19 transmitters. In fact, when proper precautions are followed, the rate of infection among young children, and from students to teachers, has been low.
In addition to Newsom, the lawsuit names California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, State Health Director Sonia Angell and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment stating that Newsom’s policy violates the rights of all California students and an order preventing it from being enforced.
Unfortunately, keeping kids home seems to be more politics than science. For example, in Los Angeles County, Health Director Barbara Ferrer recently admitted on a hot mic she would not permit LA schools to reopen until after the election.
The Freedom Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy watchdog with offices in five states, including California.