(The Center Square) – Chicago Public Schools are not allowed to enforce their COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandate on teachers and other staff who sued the district over the policy, a judge ruled Friday.
Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow issued a temporary restraining order in the case brought by six CPS staff.
“A temporary restraining order is entered enjoining The Board and CPS from taking any action against plaintiffs’ employment for refusing to comply with the school district’s vaccination and testing policy, alleged to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, unless the plaintiffs have first been given their procedural and substantive due process rights,” the order said.
The case was brought by attorneys Thomas DeVore and William Gerber in March with arguments heard March 15 in Springfield.
After Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order last fall that school staff be vaccinated, or test weekly for COVID-19, CPS made the policy a condition of employment. The governor’s orders were later found null and void by the circuit court and blocked by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
CPS argued the policy was within their purview per a collective bargaining agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union and warned non compliance would lead to disciplinary action, though no action has been taken against two of the six plaintiffs that aren’t complying with the testing requirement.
Plaintiffs said their constitutional and statutory rights of due process are being violated by the policy.
“Plaintiffs raise a legitimate issue as to what authority the Board has to implement a policy that mandates vaccination given the IDPH is the entity that has “general supervision of the interest of the health and lives of people of the state,” Grischow wrote. “As this court previously held, vaccines and testing are forms of quarantine which are subject to due process.”
She said CPS has not cited any statutory authority to create such a policy.
“Plaintiffs have due process rights in need of protection which must be afforded to them before they can be excluded from the public school building and prevented from performing their world duties due to their decision not to be vaccinated or submit to testing for COVID-19,” she said. “When a right such as the one being violated here is alleged, irreparable injury is satisfied.”
Griscow also said the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.
“This temporary restraining order shall remain in full force and effect pending a trial on the merits unless sooner modified or dissolved,” the judge said.
Officials from CPS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.