WEST OLIVE, Mich. — A U.S. District Court has withdrawn a preliminary injunction for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health in the Libertas Christian School case, as well as denied the school’s request for injunctive relief.
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health required Libertas to close if the school continues to refuse to follow public health mandates, such as masks, social distancing and size limits on indoor gatherings, according to the court order.
Libertas argued that the mandates from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services violate First Amendment rights.
The school’s return-to-school plan allowed parents to send their children to school with masks, but did not require it.
They also didn’t help with contact tracing efforts after two teachers began showing symptoms of COVID-19, the county said.
Ian Northon, an attorney for Libertas, told FOX 17 the situation began when the school was issued an initial cease-and-desist order on Oct. 15.
They were told at the time that the health department had received an anonymous complaint saying the school was still holding chapel, according to Northon.
Because the school's legal counsel and the county health department were seemingly unable to reach any sort of agreement regarding the school's COVID policies, the school filed a lawsuit against the county on Sunday, Oct. 18.
The county health department closed the school Oct. 22.
Northon filed an emergency motion the next day, informing the court of the county's actions and seeking an injunction that would stop them from enforcing the health mandates based on the orders issued by the MDHHS, feeling that the county had violated a court order.
The case is next expected to be in court Nov. 17.
It’s unclear what will happen in court that day.
Read the full order here.
Attorney for Libertas, Ian Northon, provided the following statement in response to the court's decision Tuesday:
The county was forced to concede on the chapel because it had been caught red handed violating the constitution. The court accepted the county’s withdrawal of the county’s motion. And while the district court temporarily ruled against Libertas over the orders issued after we filed our complaint, my client looks forward to fully vindicating the rights of the school and its parents before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.