Members of the Orange County Board of Education are expected to discuss suing the state over the mandatory school shutdown at their meeting this Tuesday night.
Editor’s Note: As Orange County’s only nonprofit & nonpartisan newsroom, Voice of OC brings you the best, most comprehensive local Coronavirus news absolutely free. No ads, no paywalls. We need your help. Please, make a tax-deductible donation today to support your local news.
Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that any counties on the state coronavirus watch list, which includes Orange County, would not be allowed to have in-person classes.
According to the agenda for the board’s upcoming meeting, members will be discussing potential litigation “regarding state orders and restrictions against reopening schools.”
The item is listed for closed session discussion, meaning it won’t be publicly discussed because it is a legal matter. If the board decides to sue, or take any other action, it would be required to be announced at the end of the meeting.
The county board of education does not have the power to return students to classrooms, and that decision can only be made by the 27 individual school districts.
The board came under national scrutiny earlier this month after members approved a report calling for students to return to classes without masks or social distancing.
The guidelines also ran in direct opposition to the county’s own department of education, who released suggestions that encouraged the widespread use of masks and social distancing when children returned to school.
The report was also disowned by multiple members of the advisory panel that were listed as contributors, who said they never saw what was planned before it was released to the public. Those members included county supervisor Don Wagner and public health care agency director Dr. Clayton Chau.
Public comments can be submitted on the issue, but the Board still has not publicly released over 4,000 comments from the meeting where they approved the report, none of which were read ahead of the board’s vote on the issue.
The board has also limited in person public comment to 30 minutes for their upcoming meeting, with an additional 15 minutes after they meet in closed session.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.