Education · Fresno

Immanuel Schools rebuffed by Calif. Supreme Court in fight with Newsom

An attempt at fast-tracking litigation to challenge Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency order that forced the closure of the state’s private schools fell short on Wednesday.

The California Supreme Court denied a petition from Reedley-based Immanuel Schools to rollback Newsom’s coronavirus orders mandating private schools target-list counties engage in distance learning.

A detailed ruling from the San Francisco-based Supreme Court denying the petition for writ of mandate was not immediately available.

The ruling, however, does set up an intense battle next week between Immanuel Schools and the County of Fresno.

The two sides remain locked in companion litigation over Immanuel Schools’ decision to reopen its school facilities to students in mid-August, in violation of local and state health orders.

At the end of August, Fresno County officials sought a temporary restraining order to suspend in-person instruction at the Christian K-12 school system.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Tyler Tharpe, however, surprised court watchers and denied Fresno County’s request – finding that local public health officials failed to demonstrate the immediate danger posed by the schools reopening.

The decision by Tharpe has enabled the school to continue in-person instruction for an additional two weeks.

Following the defeat of the temporary restraining order, the school and county public health officials found themselves in a standoff over inspections of school facilities at the end of August.

The standoff resulted in Fresno County successfully seeking a search warrant for various elements of the school premises.

The warrant, first reported by KFSN’s Corin Hoggard, was issued by Tharpe himself.

Fresno County public health and Immanuel Schools officials return to Tharpe’s courtroom on Tuesday.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at