(The Center Square) – An attorney has filed a request to hold Libertyville-Vernon Hills School District 128 in contempt of court for allegedly violating a judge’s ruling that blocked the enforcement of masks.
Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow issued a temporary restraining order on February 4 against school masking and COVID exclusion policies.
Attorney Thomas DeVore said plaintiffs’ children across the state last week were not being punished for not wearing masks following court’s ruling, but that changed on Monday.
“Out of the blue, [Chicago Public Schools] told my clients … that their children had to wear a mask or go home,” DeVore told The Center Square Monday.
“For whatever reason, they arbitrarily just changed the way that they were going to handle my children and so they’re in contempt of court and I’m going to ask the judge to find them so,” DeVore said.
In a statement on February 5, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) said its collectively bargained agreement with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) means its mask mandate is still in place.
“This ruling also states that collectively bargained agreements are still enforceable,” CTU’s statement said. “Our January 2022 agreement with Chicago Public Schools, which guarantees masking, will keep schools open and safe.”
DeVore notes the appeals court has not ruled on the governor’s appeal of the judge’s order.
“Since there is no stay, [Grischow’s] order is in effect,” DeVore said.
“And to the extent that Chicago Public Schools District wants to try to suggest that their collective bargaining agreement between the teachers and the district somehow or another puts obligations on my children, that argument is made in bad faith with zero support of the law and I’ll ask her to hold them in contempt,” DeVore said.
DeVore said he is seeking the highest punishment from the judge, including possible jail time for school officials.
“She could be that extreme if she wanted to,” DeVore said. “Whatever remedy that she has to fashion to get them to listen to her is ultimately what it will be.”
DeVore also filed a contempt motion on Monday against the board for School District 128, which includes Libertyville High School and Vernon Hills High School.
“[The school district is] trying to be clever and say ‘well, yeah, your child doesn’t have to wear a mask when they’re in the school building for education, but if they come back into the school building for any other reason like an after hours event or something like that they have to wear one,’ it’s completely ridiculous,” DeVore said.
Grischow on Monday afternoon scheduled a February 25 hearing for CPS and District 128 to answer to the charge in Sangamon County.
Officials from the school districts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, students at Libertyville High School and Vernon Hills High School in District 128 held walkouts in protest of the school district continuing to require masks for students who were not named in the lawsuit.
Lake and McHenry County Scanner and The Center Square both contributed to this story.