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Immanuel Schools, County Prepare for Renewed Court Battle



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Despite a legal setback this week from the state Supreme Court, Immanuel Schools is set to resume battle Tuesday morning in Fresno County Superior Court Judge D. Tyler Tharpe’s courtroom.

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David Taub

Politics 101

Fresno County seeks a preliminary injunction to close the school — which has been open since Aug. 13 in defiance of state and county COVID-19 health orders.

The Supreme Court declined to hear a petition to reverse Gov. Gavin Newsom’s state order brought on by Immanuel, Clovis Christian School, and several other clients.

Last month, Tharpe denied the county’s request for a temporary restraining order to shut down Immanuel. He set Tuesday to explore the issue further.

Also in Politics 101: 

  • Hundreds of pages submitted for court case.
  • Cafeteria inspection leads to warrant request.
  • SCCCD faculty makes endorsements.
  • World Ag Expo freeway exit gets a boost.
  • Calexit attempting to qualify for ballot, based in Fresno.
  • New job for James Martinez.
  • Parting shot by Emily Cameron.

Hundreds of Pages Submitted

Each side has submitted hundreds of pages of legal documents to make its argument.

At the heart is whether emergency orders weigh more, constitutionally speaking, than the right to an education. Among the county’s arguments: the right to education doesn’t apply to private schools.

Immanuel Schools on Friday filed a cross-complaint against the county and state, alleging a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution and violation of the similar 14th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

Each side is lining up expert opinions to show its science and interpretation of COVID-19 is right.

In an email news release, Immanuel Schools says parents are noticing improvements in their children’s well-being.

“We believe this is a family choice and they should not be denied this choice by government mandates that overreach their constitutional rights,” the school said. “We believe we must take this legal action to assure that we have the opportunity to put all of our arguments in front of the court. ”

County Didn’t Like What it Saw During Inspection

The county also filed declarations from several health professionals. Dr. John Zweifler of county public health said that during an Aug. 31 inspection of the cafeteria at the Immanuel campus, he observed many students and staff not wearing masks.

“I am informed and believe that participants and attendees have failed to comply with the mandate of the State Public Health Officer to wear face coverings when unable to practice physical distancing,” Zweifler declared.

Zweifler said the school’s principal denied the health inspectors access beyond the cafeteria. The county then applied for a warrant to inspect the rest of the campus.

Dr. Rais Vohra, the county’s interim health director, said Immanuel is not doing an adequate job of screening students and staff.

“The reopening of Immanuel Schools for in-person instruction where groups from different households gather together, indoors for extended periods of time increases the likelihood of spreading the COVID-19 virus,” Vohra said in a declaration.

The school says tests performed by Dr. Paul Atmajian, a parent of a student, showed the school achieved herd immunity, and thus was at lower risk of contracting COVID.

Vohra found those claims flawed.

“There are several problems with the study conducted by Dr. Atmajian, such as patient selection, test selection, and the interpretation of the test results,” Vohra wrote.

The school says there have been no positive COVID tests since opening.

State Center Teachers Union Announces Election Picks

The labor union representing faculty at the State Center Community College District endorsed candidates in three of four races, and none are incumbents.

The State Center Federation of Teachers announced it will endorse Nasreen Johnson in Area 2, Dary Rezvani in Area 3, and Sally Fowler in Area 6.

Johnson is running against incumbent Eric Payne, Rezvani against incumbent John Leal, and Fowler vs. office-holder Debora Ikeda.

SCFT made no endorsement in the Area 7 seat held by Richard Caglia, who is running for reelection.

“The SCFT Executive Council believes it is time to take the SCCCD Board of Trustees in a new direction,” the group said in a news release.

Highway 99 Interchange at World Ag Expo Gets Upgrade

The Highway 99 interchange leading to the World Ag Expo in Tulare will receive $16 million in federal grants.

The BUILD Grant, through the U.S. Department of Transportation, will go through the Tulare County Association of Governments. The project will upgrade Highway 99 at Paige Avenue, the main exit to the expo.

Congressman Devin Nunes, in a news release, said the grant will lead to “reducing congestion and generating substantial economic development in our community. I commend the Tulare County Association of Governments for their tireless effort to realize this project, and I thank Secretary (Elaine) Chao and the Trump Administration for prioritizing the Valley’s infrastructure needs.”

The Road to Independence Runs Through Fresno

The road to California independence runs through … Fresno?

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the latest initiative to enter circulation, the first step to make Californian an independent country.

The proponent of the initiative is Yes California, which lists its post office box in Fresno.

Qualifying for the ballot requires 623,212 signatures — 5% of the voters that cast ballots in the 2018 governor’s race — by March 8, 2021.

If passed, it wouldn’t separate California just yet. It would create a commission to examine the state’s viability to govern itself.

It is not the first time this group attempted a “Calexit.” Efforts to collect signatures in 2018 did not go anywhere.

Ed Board Candidate Martinez Has New Job

James Martinez

Come this fall, James Martinez will be working in education, one way or another.

Martinez is a candidate for the Fresno County Board of Education, running against incumbent Daren Miller and others.

On Facebook, Martinez announced he has a new job — director of operations of the Associated Students, Inc. at Fresno State, i.e. the student body government.

Martinez, a Fresno State grad, has worked in politics as an aide most recently for state Sen. Melissa Hurtado.

Former Dem Committee Member Doesn’t Care That Homes Burned

Last week, the Fresno County Democratic Party Central Committee voted to remove member Emily Cameron, effectively impeaching her.

The stated reason: 25 violations of the committee’s code, including disparaging fellow Democrats on social media.

Cameron has claimed it was retaliation for her advocacy to ban donations from law enforcement groups to Democrats.

The committee last week, rejected that proposal by a 16-10 vote.

This week, in the wake of the Creek Fires, Cameron had no sympathy for those who lost homes.

“If your house burned down in the fires, I am very sorry. If your vacation home burned own in the fires, I do not give a s***.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email