* 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…