The lawyer ruled the order unconstitutional and said it violated First Amendment rights as it was an act of worship for many to give faith-based teaching.
TOLEDO, Ohio – Attorneys for the Ohio Christian Education Network filed a lawsuit on Monday against the Toledo-Lucas Department of Health’s Coronavirus Health Ordinance that is said to be unconstitutional.
The Ohio Christian Education Network is a network of private religious organizations supported by Citizens for Community Values with “member schools” in the community.
The Monclova Christian Academy, St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy, and the Emmanuel Christian School are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Prior to filing the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of Ohio, the group had previously asked Lucas County’s health commissioner Eric Zgodzinski to overturn the order.
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The order in question called for all schools in Lucas County, including public, private, charter and parish institutions, with a few exceptions, to close all school buildings from December 4th to January 11th.
“Due to the expected problems with students in grades K-6 (unless the school configuration consists of grades K-8 who can follow instructions from K-6) schools can stay open but only those facilities that open For the personal training of students required in these classes “was the order.
In addition, the Order allowed schools to hold religious and educational courses, as well as religious ceremonies. However, it was made clear that the training for grades 7 to 12 should take place virtually during this period.
The order also suspended all sports and extracurricular activities that were taking place on school grounds during that time.
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In the lawsuit, plaintiffs argue that for many parents, teachers and private school administrators, the provision of faith-based instruction is an act of worship and therefore an unconstitutional ordinance as they believe it violates their right to religious freedom under the First Amendment .
Plaintiffs acknowledged that the order was well meant and is intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but added:
“The resolution is bogus and violates the federal constitution by incriminating religious institutions but not banning other gatherings that pose a grimmer health risk to community spread. TLCHD has publicly and privately suggested that they have no authority over that Regulate schools out, but the law they rely on regulating schools (…) ”
In a session Tuesday to discuss the order, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department entered an executive meeting for nearly an hour out of the public eye.
When the board members returned from the board meeting, they announced to the public that no action had been taken following a discussion with their attorney. Health Department officials said they had no further comments and were waiting for a trial and pending litigation.