A San Francisco Supreme Court judge on Thursday denied the city’s motion for an emergency court order requiring the school district to return all students of all grades by the end of April.
Judge Ethan Schulman wrote in his ruling that several recent developments, including the approval of a plan to return younger students as well as more vulnerable older students to the classroom, had rendered the motion pointless.
He also wrote that he was unable to “dictate or oversee the district’s decisions to reopen a large public school system with over 50,000 students and nearly 10,000 teachers, staff and administrators in 130 schools.”
The prosecutor Dennis Herrera described the decision as discouraging and said in a statement: “We strongly disagree with the arguments of the court.”
Although the court ruled in favor of the school district, the unprecedented lawsuit raised awareness of the issue of the school’s reopening. Along with protests from parents, the case put new pressure on the district, which reached an agreement in early March to resume a certain level of personal learning. “
“It’s unfortunate that it took a lawsuit and families gathered on the streets to get the school district to focus on what really matters – getting their students back into class,” Herrera said.
Under the agreement between the San Francisco District and its unions, preschoolers through fifth graders, students with special education, and vulnerable older groups will be able to return to some level of in-person tuition starting April 12th.
“This lawsuit was nothing more than a superficial diversion from the work of getting San Francisco public school students safely back into personal study,” Superintendent Vincent Matthews said in a statement.
“We’re working around the clock to get students back to school locations and help them with distance learning,” he said.
When the case was first filed by Herrera in early February, the district had no clear details about the return to schools.
At a hearing on Monday, city lawyers argued that the school district is still failing to meet state mandates because they do not have a personal learning plan that includes older students. The district attorney argued that education officials are doing their best to bring back as many students as possible, but that the challenges remain with returning all students. In a letter filed prior to the hearing, the district’s attorneys wrote that “political standing cannot make personal learning more” possible “than it was” before the lawsuit was filed.
In a statement released after the hearing, Herrera said he did not want to sue the school district, “but unfortunately it was necessary.”
“The toll on families, the mental crisis that grips our children, and the devastating learning loss are all too much,” he said.
After the ruling was publicized, Herrera said, “We tried to get the fences pending for this court order because the families in San Francisco deserved it. We came up short, but the case is not over yet. “
The city is currently examining all legal options.
Emma Talley is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @ emmat332