Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty takes legal action to keep Racine schools open

NOW: Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty takes legal action to keep Racine schools open

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RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A conservative organization is taking legal action to keep Racine schools open. 

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to stop a shutdown order issued by the Racine Health Department on Nov. 12. 

The health department said schools must close from Nov. 27 to Jan. 15 because of an increase in coronavirus cases. 

WILL is now questioning the power of local health officials to close schools during the pandemic.

“There’s no dispute that COVID-19 presents a serious public health challenge. It’s a challenge that should be, needs to be addressed but it has to be addressed within the limits of the law," Anthony LoCoco, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty deputy counsel, said.

The lawsuit is on behalf of five private schools, two organizations and three families with students in Racine private schools.

They say schools put money toward adequate safety measures and now student’s lives will be disrupted.

“My clients, in their view, in-person instruction is a better method of education. In the case of religious schools, they’re offering religious exercises that can’t be engaged in at home," he explained.

Racine’s public health administrator is leaving the final decision to the Courts.

But in a statement, Dottie-Kay Bowersox wrote: "The City of Racine Public Health Department will continue to do everything necessary and reasonable to protect our community from this deadly virus. Our local public health orders remain in effect until otherwise directed by the Court."

LoCoco hopes a similar battle he is fighting will help his clients in Racine.

That case – also arguing the limits of public health officials in Dane County – he said is now pending in the state Supreme Court.

“Whether or not school should be shut down is a really really important question that needs to be addressed," he said. "According to the law, by those government entities that have the authority that the people invested in them to decide those questions.”


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