Redding, CA — A Christian boarding school in Northern California won a reprieve in court today against the state of California’s efforts to shut it down. The dispute centers on the state’s unilaterally re-labeling of the school as a “community care facility.” That label would force the school into heavy regulation by the state’s department of social services, including mandates that would violate the school’s religious mission.
Over the weekend, Judge Tamara Woods of the Shasta County Superior Court issued a tentative ruling denying the state’s motion for preliminary injunction, in which the state sought to force the school’s closure. The judge expressed concern with the First Amendment implications of the state’s demands. Following oral argument this week, the judge adopted her tentative ruling in favor of the school.
The school at the center of this case is River View Christian Academy. The school is located in rural Shasta County in Northern California and is operated as a ministry of Teen Rescue, a religious non-profit.
In January of this year, the school was raided by the state. The raid consisted of 16 armed law enforcement from the California Highway Patrol, 2 canine units, and 17 social workers. The state later admitted the raid was prompted by an internet rumor put forward by an online tabloid. The state was duped into thinking the school housed illegal drugs, stockpiled weapons, and was preparing for an end-times apocalypse. Yet the Waco-style raid turned up no such evidence.
Instead of retreating from its dangerous blunder, the state doubled down and began imposing daily fines against the school for allegedly operating as an “unlicensed community care facility.” This is in spite of the fact that the state has confirmed three times over the past 10 years that River View is operating legally as a school. River View has operated as a private school for the past 25 years, filing an annual affidavit with the California Department of Education as do other private schools and homeschools in the State.
The above comes from a Nov. 20 release emailed by the Pacific Justice Institute.