Attorney General Paxton rules Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-28 supersedes local health officials’ orders shutting down public schools

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and State Senator Brandon Creighton met with President Donald Trump at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston on September 22, 2019.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Austin, July 29 – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a ruling yesterday that Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-28, concerning efforts to contain the spread of Chinese Coronavirus, supersedes local health officials who have ruled that public schools must close in response to the virus panic. The ruling came by letter to Stephenville Mayor Doug Svien, who had requested guidance from the Attorney General on the issue.

In his letter ruling, General Paxton noted that local health officials issued orders closing public schools at least in Austin and Travis County, San Antonio and Bexar County, El Paso, Dallas, Houston and Harris County, McAllen and Hidalgo County, Laredo, and Waco and McLennan County. All of those orders purported to quarantine public schools and caused them to close. Paxton noted, however, that none of the orders complied with the requirement under Chapter 81 of the Texas Health and Safety Code that such local quarantine orders must receive approval from the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The Attorney General noted that Governor Abbott’s Executive Order GA-28 contains the following provision which supersedes “any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster…to the extent that such a local order restricts services allowed by this executive order”:

“For the remainder of the 2019–2020 school year, public schools may resume operations for the summer as provided by, and under the minimum standard health protocols found in, guidance issued by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Private schools and institutions of higher education are encouraged to establish similar standards.”

Under the Governor’s executive order, public schools must follow guidelines of the Texas Education Agency for their operations. As a result, Paxton ruled “local orders that restrict these permitted school operations conflict with GA-28 and are superseded.”

In his letter, Paxton noted, “Education of our children is an essential Texas value,” quoting a 1996 Texas Supreme Court decision.

The Attorney General of Texas concluded his letter ruling with the reminder that the Texas Supreme Court recognized in In re Abbott, a 2020 decision, that “the Constitution is not suspended when the government declares a state of disaster.”

Hopefully, public schools will reopen quickly to resume the education of Texas children for which such education Texas citizens pay exorbitant property taxes.

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