A federal appeals court in Pasadena agreed Wednesday to vacate its previous ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 order barring private schools from in-person teaching was unconstitutional and will have the case reheard by a full panel of judges.

In the prior ruling in favor of parents, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that the right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children is a fundamental right, including “the right of parents to be free from state interference with their choice of the educational forum itself.”

Southland parents brought the lawsuit last year against Newsom to allow schools to open for in-person learning, claiming their children were suffering academically and psychologically from the closure.

Newsom announced in July 2020 that all schools — both public and private — in counties experiencing rising coronavirus cases could not resume in-person classes when school restarts, and would have to meet strict criteria before reopening.

The appeals court agreed to rehear the case “en banc” — before a full 11-judge panel.

“It’s sad to see Gov. Newsom so vigorously continue his assault on children’s education,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, CEO of the Center for American Liberty, which helped bring the original suit.

“The prior opinion from the Ninth Circuit was a clear victory for parents and students when the court correctly ruled that under the Constitution, parents — and not Gavin Newsom or faceless bureaucrats — have the right to decide how best to educate their children. I’m confident that the en banc panel will reaffirm that Gov. Newsom’s anti-parent power grab was unconstitutional.”

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