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Orange County board to sue California over school closures

California

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Education officials in Orange County are planning to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials over rules barring most schools from reopening classrooms when the academic year starts due to the coronavirus.

The Orange County Register reports that the county’s Board of Education voted 4-0 Tuesday to file the lawsuit. The board majority said in a statement the state hasn’t addressed how high-risk students will navigate distance learning and that the rules violate students’ constitutional rights.

The board approves the budget for the county’s education department but doesn’t make decisions for local school districts. Previously, the board stoked controversy by recommending schools reopen without requiring social distancing measures or masks.

Al Mijares, the county’s superintendent, said Wednesday he was disappointed by the decision to sue and that the board has diverted time and energy from students and programs to satisfy “ideological interests.”

Newsom has said public and private schools in counties that are on a state monitoring list for rising coronavirus infections can’t hold in-person classes and the counties will need to meet strict criteria for schools to reopen. Orange County is one of more than 30 counties on that list following a rise in virus cases and hospitalizations.

A conservative legal organization filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging the state doesn’t have the right to shutter schools.

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