Morton school board authorizes litigation against state board of education, state superintendent

Morton 709
Morton 709(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 11:49 AM CST
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MORTON (25 NEWS) - The Morton school district and others in the area are challenging the Illinois State Board of Education’s authority to withdraw a school district’s recognition status and withhold funding for declining to follow state-required COVID-19 mitigation measures.

The board of education adopted a resolution at its January 18 meeting authorizing litigation against the ISBE and the state superintendent of schools.

According to a release, the board adopted a return to school plan that they say balanced safety with other important considerations such as student and employee attendance, social and mental health, the efficacy of various mitigation measures, learning and achievement - advocating for a more localized and “more accurate” assessment of infection risk and transmission within Morton schools and the community.

Shortly after, Governor JB Pritzker issued executive orders and the state superintendent sent a letter to all Illinois schools threatening to remove recognition status, accompanied by the surrender of state funding, if they failed to comply.

The Morton school board made the decision to abide by the mandates to start the 2021-2022 school year, despite having faith in the integrity of it’s own plan and despite questioning the ISBE’s standing to take such action, and despite the passion of its members regarding the principle of local control and parent choice.

“That reluctant compliance continues to this day,” the release said.

“Repeatedly, we have advocated for local control communicating our concerns to the governor’s office, the ISBE and state superintendent, and the IDPH, essentially exhausting all other remedies. By filing this lawsuit and asking the court to clarify the ISBE’s permitted powers, in advance of implementing its own Return to School Plan, the Morton School Board is not imperiling the district’s recognition should the judge find in favor of ISBE.”

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