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Gov. Pritzker, Dr. Ezike, Superintendent Ayala sue three schools over refusal to impose mask requirement

Thursday, Jul 16, 2020

* The suit was filed today in Sangamon County. Defendants are the Hutsonville Community Unit School District #1, Families of Faith Christian Academy in Channahon and the Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville

Plaintiffs Governor JB Pritzker, in his official capacity; Dr. Ngozi Ezike, in her official capacity as Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health; and Dr. Carmen I. Ayala, in her official capacity as State Superintendent of Education (collectively, the “State”), bring this complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against school systems in three Illinois counties (the “Schools”) that have announced their refusal to follow public health guidance that the Governor, the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”), and the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) are requiring schools to follow to allow public and nonpublic schools to resume in person instruction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. […]

As directed in the Governor’s executive orders, IDPH and ISBE developed and issued the Transition Joint Guidance to make the reopening of Illinois schools for in-person instruction for the 2020–2021 school year as safe as possible. The Guidance includes mandatory health and safety protocols that public and nonpublic schools must implement in order to reopen, including requiring everyone over the age of two who is medically able to wear a face covering to do so at all times in a school facility.

Despite the ongoing health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures contained in the Guidance as part of the effort to combat that crisis, the Schools have announced their refusal to comply with the Governor’s executive orders and the Guidance.

The Defendant Schools are represented by the same attorney, Thomas G. DeVore, who sent Dr. Ezike and Dr. Ayala essentially the same form letter on behalf each of the Schools, contending that the Guidance is unlawful, is arbitrary and unreasonable, and was issued without legal authority. (The Letters on behalf of the Schools are attached as Group Exhibit 2.) In the Letter, the Schools announce their intention to refuse to comply with the Guidance.

The Letter states that the Schools alone will determine what, if any, health and safety protocols they might choose to add to their current guidelines for the upcoming school year.

* From the section on injunctive relief

The Schools’ refusal to comply with the Governor’s executive orders and the Guidance will cause immediate and irreparable harm, including by undermining Plaintiffs’ ability to cohesively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the Schools are not enjoined from refusing to comply with the executive orders and Guidance, the result would undermine the Governor’s constitutional authority and statutory authority under the Act and ISBE’s and IDPH’s authority to assist the Governor, and would threaten the health of the students and families within the Schools, as well as every Illinoisan alike.

The State has no adequate remedy at law to prevent the Schools from refusing to comply with the executive orders and the Guidance.

The State has a likelihood of success on the merits because the Governor’s executive orders and the Guidance were issued under the Governor’s authority granted in the Illinois Constitution and the Act.

Based on this constitutional and statutory authority, the State has the right to the statewide unified implementation and enforcement of the Governor’s executive orders and the Guidance. The State also has a vital interest in regulating the response to COVID-19 and setting minimum public health standards.

The benefits of granting an injunction outweigh any possible injury the Schools might suffer as a result of the injunction. The executive orders and Guidance embody public health measures necessary to protect every person in the State and particularly students and school staff when they return to in-person instruction. An injunction would help support and protect the public interest by allowing the State to exercise the powers granted under the Illinois Constitution and the Act to cohesively address the health concerns faced by everyone within this State during public health emergencies.

* Prayer for relief

A. Declare that the Governor lawfully issued EO5, EO40, and EO44.
B. Declare that IDPH and ISBE lawfully issued the Guidance.
C. Declare that the Schools, their officers, employees, agents, and all persons acting
in active concert with them, are not exempt from the public health measures
required under the executive orders and the Guidance.
D. Enjoin the Schools, their officers, employees, agents, and all persons acting in
active concert with them, from refusing to comply with the requirements of the
executive orders and the Guidance.
E. Grant such other relief as is warranted in the circumstances.

* Statement from Gov. Pritzker…

As a father, I would not send my children to a school where face coverings are not required because the science is clear: face coverings are critical to prevent the spread of coronavirus. From the CDC to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors and epidemiologists agree that in order to bring large groups of people together, especially indoors, a face covering is needed to stop the spread. As school districts finalize their fall operations plans, it is imperative that they understand these clear evidence-based requirements to wear face coverings need to be followed to keep our children, teachers and communities healthy and safe.

* In other DeVore lawsuit news…


…Adding… Meanwhile, in Opposite Land…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments
  1. - Frank talks - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 5:32 pm:

    God will provide coverage from disease. I’m guessing their insurance company won’t though.


  2. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 5:43 pm:

    When will these lawsuits over Pritzker’s EO ever make it to the appellate courts and the ILSC? This has to be settled once and for all.

    Beetle, devore and their ilk need to be put in their place.


  3. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 5:49 pm:

    ===A Clay County Court hearing scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled.===

    I’ve seen many plaintiffs be declared vexatious litigants.

    Never in my life have I ever seen a judge working so hard to get on that same list.


  4. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 5:50 pm:

    At least 31 percent of children tested in Florida are positive for Covid-19.


  5. - Pundent - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 5:58 pm:

    We have to sue schools to get them to do something as simple as having kids wear mask and maintain social distancing and then we wonder why we can’t get back to “normal.”


  6. - TominChicago - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 6:17 pm:

    Is DeVore doing this stuff for free?


  7. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 6:28 pm:

    == ===A Clay County Court hearing scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled.===

    What I find comical are the repeated filings in Clay county, after years of GOP complaints about “venue shopping”. No one else wants to try their luck in a different county?


  8. - Lynn S. - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 6:40 pm:

    TominChicago,

    He lives in a smaller town. Probably has very cheap rent and pays his secretary a buck over minimum wage, with no benefits.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if DeVore is doing this for $5000 a pop, plus mileage. He gets lots of PR from it, and if he wins he’ll be famous (banned punctuation).

    He’s also been doing the right-wing radio and tv circuit, because he’s a “hee-row” for “pwning the libs (banned punctuation)”.


  9. - JoanP - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 6:43 pm:

    I am so glad I don’t live in Georgia.


  10. - BlueStreet - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 7:05 pm:

    How can “Guidance” be mandatory?


  11. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 8:15 pm:

    =How can “Guidance” be mandatory?=

    When the ISBE, which has legislative (legal) authority to make it so.

    In their guidance they clearly state that five things are mandatory and non negotiable. If you want to see know what they are go to isbe.net and read them yourself. They have a 62 page/slide document that anyone can access to see the guidance schools were given.

    This is why DeVore is such a buffoon for suing Quincy schools. The ISBE has the authority through statute to mandate school rules.


  12. - Pylorus - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 8:21 pm:

    I don’t know much about the law, but I like this move. If anything this will put some teeth behind the students and possibly even faculty that balk at wearing masks. Some of our faculty have anti-Pritzker signs in their yards and I was worried they might fight wearing masks in school.


  13. - Pylorus - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 8:42 pm:

    I’m not sure how this lawsuit will proceed and more specifically how quickly, but I like this move by Governor Pritzker. One of my worries going into this school year is how we were going to enforce mask usage, and this seems to put some teeth behind it.

    Sadly enough I was more worried about some of the faculty resisting masks as several in my school have anti-Pritzker signs in their yards.


  14. - Just Wondering - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 9:20 pm:

    DeVore is a regular on WMAY with Bishop so he gets his Springfield audience fix. I’m wondering how he will do in a Sangamon County Courtroom vs Clay County. Today Bailey was beating on his chest about tomorrows hearing. Well I guess he’ll have to wait now. It’s a different world in Clay County talking to those folks.


  15. - Eastside - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 9:51 pm:

    Why does the Executive Branch need to go to the Judicial branch to enforce a mandate they authored? Isn’t it the function of the Executive branch to execute the law? And the suit says he has no remedy for compliance. He has numerous remedies for compliance. Funding, licensure, etc. All remedies for compliance.


  16. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Jul 16, 20 @ 9:54 pm:

    Parents who send their children to maskless schools might get a visit from DCFS. Sounds like child endangerment to me.


  17. - The Dude - Friday, Jul 17, 20 @ 5:20 am:

    The state has the authority though the General Duty Clause through the states OSHA act to mandate the teachers wear a mask and not be unnecessarily exposed to a hazard. Thats how you go after the school.

    Same goes for federal OSHA for the private schools.

    The govenor could use some people giving him correct info every know and then


  18. - X - Friday, Jul 17, 20 @ 6:28 am:

    Dear double paid governor staff attack dogs, remember this, you can lead a horse to water, you can’t make it drink.


  19. - phenom_Anon - Friday, Jul 17, 20 @ 7:37 am:

    =This is why DeVore is such a buffoon for suing Quincy schools. The ISBE has the authority through statute to mandate school rules. =

    You might want to brush up on state law. ISBE rules have to go through the administrative rules process, i.e. JCAR. In the last JCAR hearing, ISBE testified that these rules were not ISBE rules (the 5 mandatory guidelines), they were IDPH’s, and they testified that IDPH has the authority to issue those rules without going through the administrative process because of the Governor’s executive orders.


  20. - JS Mill - Friday, Jul 17, 20 @ 1:36 pm:

    =You might want to brush up on state law. =

    Nope. These rules are well within their reach and do not require JCAR.

    =ISBE testified that these rules were not ISBE rules (the 5 mandatory guidelines), they were IDPH’s, and they testified that IDPH has the authority to issue those rules without going through the administrative process because of the Governor’s executive orders.=

    I did not know that. Thanks.


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