Libertas Christian School filed a lawsuit over the weekend against Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials for violating the Constitutional rights of the school, parents, and students by actively pursuing its closure.
Libertas Christian School is a classical Christian education institution in Hudsonville, Michigan, with over 265 students ranging from grades pre-K to 12th grade. Their mission is “to partner with parents to educate and disciple children consistent with a biblical worldview, teaching them to be lifelong learners able to discern, articulate, and defend truth in a compelling, winsome Christ-like manner.”
In the text of the lawsuit, they explain that “students, their families, and their teachers reside in and constitute a close-knit community grown primarily from grassroots homeschool families.”
As such, they argue that it is “inappropriate, unwise, and unconstitutional to try to fit the State’s current designs of how an industrialized state-run school should operate to this bible-based association.”
Libertas had formulated a comprehensive plan over the summer for a successful school year of in-person learning in the face of COVID-19 and government restrictions. That plan included increased cleaning of all facilities, regular recommendations to wash hands, providing hand sanitizer and face masks, and protocols which would keep sick children at home, even if asymptomatic.
The plan received wide support from parents, evidenced by families voluntarily sending their children to school and the fact that enrollment at the school increased by nearly 50 students.
The school boasts that not a single student has become sick or tested positive for COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the Governor’s Administration immediately began targeting the school when classes began on September 4th with threats of imprisonment and promises to shut down the school.
PR Newswire reports that state officials never actually visited the school or discussed alternative options with the Headmaster. County and state officials have demanded that the school “cease and desist” after an anonymous complaint came in about singing in chapel.
The cease and desist order, served to Libertas on October 15th according to the lawsuit, demanded that the school immediately cease all operations and comply with the Governor’s October 5th order or face misdemeanor charges and the possibility of 6 months’ imprisonment of school officials.
The Michigan Supreme Court invalidated Governor Whitmer’s executive orders on October 2nd. As evidenced here, Whitmer has since defied the ruling of the Court.
“This violates the First Amendment rights of assembly and religion for the school’s 265 students, as well as parents and staff,” said Ian Northon, special counsel for the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, representing the school and providing financial assistance in the lawsuit.
“It is a shocking and audacious abuse of power,” Northon continued, “which started on the first day of school on September 4, and has continued despite the unanimous ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court declaring Governor Whitmer’s related Executive Orders unlawful.”
“The Whitmer Administration lost before the highest court in Michigan and is now sidestepping the Michigan Constitution to violate the most basic rights of the students and parents,” said Phill Kline, Director of the Amistad Project. “We will strongly support the students and parents as they stand up to bullies who are willing to use the full apparatus of the state against the students and parents of Libertas Christian School.”
Kline says that Governor Whitmer “has removed herself from the lawmaking process and has instead declared herself to be the law. My question for the Governor is, when did she lose faith in democracy?”