LAKE MARY, Fla. - A lawsuit has been filed in Orange County against Gov. Ron DeSantis and top state and local education officials to stop the reopening of public schools over concerns about the coronavirus.
The suit was filed by Jacob V. Stuart Jr and William Wieland II on behalf of a teacher at Orlando's Southwest Middle School, Kathryn Hammond, and a parent of three children enrolled in Orange County Public Schools, Monique Bellefleur. It comes in response to an Emergency Order by the Florida Department of Education on July 6, and the subsequent Orange County School Board decision to reopen schools Aug. 21.
"Because of limited resources, Public Schools will not be able to provide for social distancing measures and other necessary policies, protocols, and procedures necessary to provide for safe learning," Stuart said.
In addition to being a teacher, Stuart said Hammond is the mother of two children and is expecting a third child. He added that she has been advised by her doctor to avoid returning to the classroom. He said Bellefleur is an Assistant Nurse Manager in Labor/Delivery at an Orlando-area hospital.
"Emergency action is being requested because the 2020-2021 School Year is scheduled to start on August 21, 2020, knowing the current plan is certain to lead to devastating health consequences for our entire community resulting in needless sickness and useless death," Stuart said.
Gov. DeSantis on Saturday let parents know that they can rest assured in sending their kids back into the classroom. DeSantis agrees that parents should have the choice of whether or not they want to send their children back to school this fall.
"As a father of three young kids, I do not fear this virus' effect on my kids. I think the risk is incredibly low," DeSantis said. "I think it would be safe for them."
In addition to Gov. DeSantis, others named in the suit include: Andy Tuck, Chair of the State Board of Education; Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of Education; Jacob Oliva, Chancellor, Division of Public Schools; Teresa Jacobs, Chair, Orange County Public Schools and Barbara M. Jenkins, Ed.D., Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools.