Four west suburban school staff members have filed a lawsuit seeking to block Gov. JB Pritzker’s vaccine mandate in their school districts.
Attorney Patrick J. Walsh of Griffin Williams McMahon & Walsh law firm filed the lawsuit in Kane County Circuit Court against Community Unit School Districts 303 and 304 in St. Charles and Geneva, Cook County Record reported.
The suit was filed on behalf of plaintiffs Nicole Cournaya, Jeffrey Otterby, Christine White and Terry Todd.
Cournaya and Otterby are teachers in St. Charles Community Unit School District 303, the complaint said.
White is an assistant to a school principal in District 303 and Todd is a bus driver and instructor in Geneva Community Unit School District 304.
The lawsuit focuses on Pritzker’s vaccine mandate issued on August 26, Cook County Record reported.
The mandate required school personnel to get vaccinated or get tested at least once a week.
In response to the mandate, school district policies put those who refused to comply with the mandate at risk of suspension or termination, Cook County Record reported.
The complaint said that both Districts 303 and 304 altered their COVID-19 policies the same day the mandate was issued.
Cook County Record said the plaintiffs are seeking an order to prohibit the districts from enforcing the mandate.
Walsh said the plaintiffs targeted the school districts rather than Pritzker’s order because the districts are the ones enforcing it.
Additionally, targeting the districts could avoid the suit from being automatically sent to Springfield.
However, a judge ruled last Wednesday that Pritzker will be named in the suit as a defendant, FOX 32 Chicago reported.
The complaint alleges the mandate exceeds state authority and limits the due process rights of employees at Districts 303 and 304.
The complaint further states that teachers should be able to challenge any “modified quarantine” order.
The complaint defines “modified quarantine” as any type of required vaccination as a condition of employment, Cook County Record reported.
It further alleges that Pritzker lacks the authority to issue a vaccine mandate without first taking it up to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting the districts from enforcing “modified quarantine” orders.
On Friday, a judge denied the request for a temporary restraining order, Daily Herald reported.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a permanent order prohibiting school districts from enforcing the mandate and requiring such mandates to be taken through the appropriate local and state public health agencies, Cook County Record reported.
Walsh said he has heard from “thousands” of school district employees throughout the Chicago area that were opposed to Pritzker’s mandate.
“This is not about being anti-vaccine,” Walsh said. “This is about being pro-Constitution.”
“We are only asking that the courts require the government to provide the due process all of these educators are entitled to.”