Federal judge to rule on case over discrepancies between public, private school restrictions | KOB 4

Federal judge to rule on case over discrepancies between public, private school restrictions

Ryan Laughlin
Updated: September 24, 2020 06:12 PM
Created: September 24, 2020 04:05 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The family of a 7th grade student at Albuquerque Academy is suing the governor over the discrepancy between capacity limits at public and private schools.

The case is being heard in federal court. The state has won all other arguments about the governor's powers during the pandemic, however, those cases were heard at the state level. 


When the lawsuit was filed, the attorney representing the family, Deena Buchanan, said private schools were limited to 25%. However, public schools were limited to 50% percent capacity and day cares establishments could operate at 100% capacity.

Buchanan is arguing that the difference in capacity limits is unconstitutional.

"A government actor can't treat its citizens unfairly - if they're similarly situated. So, if you have one group of kids in public school, they can't be treated differently than kids in private school," she said.

Both sides made their arguments is federal court on Wednesday.

The state contends that it can't possibly be treating 7th graders unfairly because all 7th graders are not allowed back in the classroom. It adds that current rules treat private schools more like a business which fall under the public health order whereas public schools need to show government approved re-entry plans.

"It's a much higher threshold that we require public schools," Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. 

The governor added that she understands why there are challenges to her decisions.

"I don't get angry, or blame people, or get disappointed," she said. "People are challenging, all across the country, many of these decisions because they're hard." 

The judge has not said when a ruling will be made.

"Judge Johnson said he understood the importance of the issues that were being discussed, and he said he would do his best to get us an answer soon," Buchanan said.

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