Illinois State Board of Education: Parkview Christian case ‘should be denied’

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has responded to Parkview Christian Academy’s request for a temporary restraining order, saying the school’s request should be denied.

Parkview Christian, a K-12 school that operates two campuses in Yorkville, previously announced its intent to hold its school year without acknowledging the statewide mask mandate in a letter sent to ISBE on Aug. 23. Gov. JB Pritzker in early August declared a mask mandate, requiring all students and staff in public and private schools to wear masks while inside, regardless of vaccination status.

ISBE revoked Parkview Christian’s recognition Aug. 24. Consequences for the removal of the school’s recognition include eliminating the school’s ability to participate in Illinois High School Association and Illinois Elementary School Association sanctioned sports, blocking its participation in the Invest in Kids Act tax scholarship program, and ISBE will not recognize diplomas for graduating seniors.

Oral arguments on the temporary restraining order will be heard Sept. 29 in Kendall County Court in Yorkville, while a hearing to contest ISBE’s revocation of Parkview’s recognition is scheduled for December.

In its response to Parkview’s filing of a temporary restraining order against the consequences of ISBE’s revocation of the school’s status, ISBE said in court documents that the school “attempts to deny the very reason that Parkview, a non-public school, was nonrecognized by ISBE.”

The documents continue: “Despite being subject to a permanent injunction requiring Parkview to comply with the statewide mask mandate for in-person instruction, Parkview - for the second year in a row - chose to disregard basic health measures and place its students, faculty, and community at risk, amidst a global public health crisis.”

Parkview Christian previously caught the attention of the state in July 2020 when the state sued the school and two others after the school’s attorney, Thomas Devore, wrote in a letter to the state that school officials intended to not require students and staff to follow the mask mandate.

A Sangamon County Court decision found in favor of the state in August 2020, but Parkview Christian Board of Education President Jed Davis said previously that Parkview would appeal the decision.

“For the past two school years, Parkview has repeatedly refused to comply with ISBE and IDPH guidelines concerning mask mandates as a required public health measure in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” ISBE’s response read.

ISBE’s response elaborated on the Sangamon County decision, stating that it required Parkview “to abide by the guidelines adopted by ISBE to implement Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders,” adding that a permanent injunction was filed against Parkview on Dec. 1, 2020, with a condition “to require face coverings at Parkview.”

“The permanent injunction was never appealed by Parkview,” the response read.