Education · Fresno · Highlight

Fresno Co. to seek restraining order and injunction against Immanuel Schools

The battle between Reedley’s Immanuel Schools and the Fresno County Department of Public Health rages on. 

Immanuel Schools reopened for in-person instruction Thursday against state and county orders because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

After the school reopened, the public health department issued a health officer order requiring Immanuel Schools to close immediately. 

In a statement, Immanuel Schools board of trustees and Superintendent released a statement saying they are seeking to take legal action to address the orders. 

In defiance of the direct order from Fresno County, Immanuel Schools held in-person instruction again on Friday. 

However, Fresno County is ready to strike back and make sure the orders are enforced, keeping the children off campus. 

Department director David Pomaville said the department has talked with the state about Immanuel Schools opening, and the next step will be to have a Superior Court judge consider a restraining order and injunction against the schools. 

“There is a lot of responsibility that is vested with health officers, and with that comes authority that when it is used properly can be very effective,” Pomaville said. “So we are pursing starting into a process that we’re not exactly sure what all the steps along the way will be, but we know that the first one is to petition the superior court.” 

Thursday’s health order stated Immanuel Schools could be subject to a $1,000 fine per day that the order is violated. 

Pomaville said the county has not fined Immanuel Schools yet, but could start fining the schools once the injunction is enacted, which he expects to be sometime next week. 

The county may fine Immanuel Schools retroactively to cover the days before the court orders the injunction, Pomaville said. 

“We’re trying to make good decisions for our community,” Pomaville said. “There are times when that can conflict with people’s right to be able to freely move about and so forth, and we proceed with that very cautiously. That’s why we are working very closely with our county counsel to make sure that to the point that we can allow for people to be able to exercise their rights. 

“We want that to occur, but we also have an obligation to be able to bring forward issues when we have concerns about the health and safety of the community. We have an obligation and responsibility to bring those issues forward, and that’s where I think that the court process will help to make sure that the right balance of enforcement as well as public health protections are put into place.”

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.