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Texas Schools Can Open

We wanted to make sure you are aware that public and private schools are free to reopen with their normal school calendar this Fall.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have made this point very clear. In fact, last week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal letter making it clear that local governments cannot control whether or not a private religious school decides to open for in-person instruction. Texas Values informed General Paxton’s team about our concerns when Travis County (and now Dallas County and other counties) issued government orders telling all schools, and specifically including religious private schools, that they had to delay in-person instruction. Our friends at First Liberty Institute and others have been monitoring this issue and stand ready to assist our efforts and yours if you need protection from the local government on this private school issue.

Although some public school districts are delaying the beginning of in-person instruction, this a local decision they are making on their own. Governor Abbott and the state government are not preventing or requiring a delay of public or private schools re-opening. 

This legal letter by General Paxton makes it absolutely clear, Texas religious and private schools do not have to follow local government orders that have banned these schools from opening and having in-person instruction and extracurricular activities. I could not agree more with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the top law enforcement officer in our state. We are prepared to defend these freedoms in Texas wherever and whenever necessary.

“Last week, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a guidance letter to religious private schools in Texas, informing them that local public health orders attempting to restrict their reopenings violate the United States and Texas Constitutions and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Moreover, local orders seeking to restrict the reopening of religious private schools or institutions is inconsistent with Governor Abbott’s executive orders, and therefore, are invalid…  As the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed just last week, there are robust constitutional and statutory protections unique to religious individuals and communities, specifically including religious private schools,” said Attorney General Paxton. “In accordance with the protections granted by the First Amendment and Texas law, this guidance allows religious private schools to determine for themselves when to reopen free from any government mandate or interference.”

Lastly, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said:

“Our objective is to get as many kids as possible on campus as long as it is safe… But we know on-campus instruction is really the best instructional setting for the vast majority of our students in Texas. Please don’t feel compelled to use this transition period unless your local conditions deem it necessary.”

Read the full letter from AG Ken Paxton here.

Read the full letter from TEA Commission Mike Morath here.

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