Fresno Superior Court Judge Tyler Tharpe sanctioned Immanuel Schools $50,000 for violating a September preliminary injunction ordering the Reedley-based private school to cease in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Tharpe suspended $35,000 of the sanction, as long as Immanuel Schools follows the reopening plan that the Fresno County Department of Public Health signed off on.
Tharpe ruled that Immanuel Schools will have to pay the remaining $15,000 due to contempt of court.
“The evidence is overwhelming that the defendants failed to obey this court’s Sep. 15, 2020, injunction forbidding in-person class instruction at Immanuel Schools,” Tharpe wrote in his ruling. “There was no good cause or substantial justification for the disobedience.”
This ruling comes after a settlement was reached between Immanuel Schools and the county and state. Terms of the settlement dictate that the private school district is not allowed to appeal the contempt ruling.
Immanuel Schools released a statement Tuesday after the ruling which addressed the settlement:
“After prayerfully seeking counsel from educational and medical experts, our legal advisors and members of our community, Immanuel Schools opened for on-campus instruction on Thursday, Aug. 13. Throughout our forty-plus days of on-campus learning, we have witnessed firsthand the positive impact Christ-centered, rationally based, face-to-face instruction has had on our students. As of today, we have had no cases of COVID-19 on our campus, amongst our students, faculty or staff. We are grateful for the Lord’s provision in helping our campus to remain healthy.
“In regards to the settlement, we agreed to talk with the legal counsel from both the state and county on Sep. 30. We felt it was important to enter into a good-faith negotiation to seek a resolution. Our goal from day one was to be obedient to the Lord’s leading and to step out in faith to keep students learning on campus. In partnership with our families, we have always felt this was best for the academic, physical, emotional and spiritual development of our students.”