State High Court to Review School Shutdown
WILL and school choice group sue to block Racine order closing all schools.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has given the Racine public health department until 4 p.m. on Monday to respond to a petition by School Choice Wisconsin, a private-school lobbying group, to block the closure of Racine schools as part of a public health order seeking to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Racine Public Health Department issued the order on November 12, closing all public and private school buildings from November 27 to January 15.
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court took our legal challenge and issued an injunction when Dane County illegally attempted to close all schools,” Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty counsel Rick Esenberg, who is representing School Choice Wisconsin and the other plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement. “Because the issues presented in Racine are so similar, it is our hope the Court will take the original action and issue a similar injunction in Racine while the Dane County case is under consideration.”
In its court filings, WILL argues that “local health officers have the power to inspect schools but not the power to close them.”
“Once again, and in contravention of state statutes and constitutional guarantees, a local government bureaucrat has prohibited Wisconsin parents from sending their own children to receive in-person instruction in privately owned and operated schools, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as justification,” the emergency petition states.
Other petitioners in the case include Wisconsin Council of Religious & Independent Schools, EverGreen Academy, Racine Christian School, Racine Lutheran High School, St. John’s Lutheran Church & School, Trinity Lutheran School, Ethan Bickle, Andrea Thunhorst, Ryan Thunhorst, and Elaine Wilson.
Because the Supreme Court is still considering a similar lawsuit against a public health order closing schools in Dane County, and has temporarily enjoined the order, agreeing that the petitioners in that case are “likely to succeed on the merits of their argument” that local public health officials overstepped their authority, the court should follow the same path in Racine, the emergency petition argues.
“The top priority must be keeping students and staff safe until the pandemic is under control,” Angelina Cruz, a Racine teacher and president of the Racine Educators United (REU), the teachers union, said in a statement.
“Racine teachers are in full support of the Racine City Health Department’s decision to move completely to virtual learning after November 23,” she added, calling the public health order “a responsible decision, grounded in science and public health.”
“Racine teachers are committed to working with Racine Unified School District leaders to make sure remote learning continues to work well for students,” Cruz said. “Educators want nothing more than to be in our classrooms with students, but it’s not safe right now.”
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.
- COVID-19 Second Dose Vaccine Incentive Program to Launch October 21 - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Oct 20th, 2021
- Nursing Home COVID-19 Cases, Deaths Increasing - Erik Gunn - Oct 19th, 2021
- City of Milwaukee Weekly COVID-19 Update - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Oct 15th, 2021
- MATC to Host Public COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus Oct. 18 - Milwaukee Area Technical College - Oct 15th, 2021
- City Hall: MPD Supervisors Face Vaccine-or-Mask Requirement - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 14th, 2021
- Hospitals Expect to Lose Staff Over Vaccine Mandates - Shamane Mills - Oct 14th, 2021
- Rural Areas Have Highest COVID-19 Death Rates - Shamane Mills - Oct 13th, 2021
- DHS Announces Multiple Funding Opportunities to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Oct 13th, 2021
- City and Police Supervisors Reach Agreement on COVID Vaccinations - City of Milwaukee - Oct 13th, 2021
- MKE County: COVID-19 Disease Remains At High Level - Graham Kilmer - Oct 12th, 2021
Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here