Cornerstone Christian Schools in San Antonio, along with Cornerstone Church and Pastor John Hagee, have filed a lawsuit against Bexar County for a local health order issued by the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District requiring schools to delay resuming in-person instruction until September 7.
The order, signed by Dr. Junda Woo and published on July 17, states that it imposes “restrictions on all public and private schools [. . .] offering instruction to students in any grades from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.”
On the same day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion asserting that religious private schools are exempt from local orders requiring the delayed reopening of in-person teaching.
“[L]ocal governments are prohibited from closing religious institutions or dictating mitigation strategies to those institutions [and] are similarly prohibited from issuing blanket orders closing religious private schools,” said Paxton.
Paxton followed that opinion up with another letter on Tuesday stating that local health officials do not have the authority to prohibit in-person classes due to COVID-19 concerns, but rather that the authority to delay classes belongs to school system leaders.
On Friday, July 24, Cornerstone filed its lawsuit against the county and cited Paxton’s first opinion.
“In summary, an unelected civil servant purporting to act on behalf of an undetermined ‘health authority’ in Bexar County and/or San Antonio, Texas, issued an illegal and unconstitutional ‘directive’ contrary to the orders and guidance of the Governor and Attorney General of Texas that interferes with the religious freedoms enjoyed by private, religious schools by purporting to prohibit those schools from being allowed to choose to conduct in-person classroom instruction,” reads the lawsuit as published by The Rivard Report.
The suit also alleges that the San Antonio Police Department sent a “COVID code enforcement officer” to visit the school after receiving a complaint.
Cornerstone has stated that they “believe that parents should have the right to decide what is best for their families in the context of their children’s education,” and that they are providing families with the option of either in-person or virtual teaching.
“City Attorney Andy Segovia said city officials tried to work with religious schools on the directive [to delay reopening] but the city was sued before officials met with Cornerstone Church,” reports KSAT.
The city states that Woo’s order was made “with recommendations from a task force of individuals selected with the support of the COVID-19 Community Response Coalition,” which included members from several schools, but not Cornerstone.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.