Families Sue to Be Allowed to Send Children to Private Schools in Montgomery County

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Several parents are suing for the right to send their children to private school in person in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“Online learning is in no way equivalent to face-to-face learning, especially for young children,” said Meagan Rizzo, whose family is one of six that joined the lawsuit.

The families say their children’s private schools had detailed safety plans for in-person learning so they felt comfortable with it.

“We really should have that opportunity to make the decision for ourselves,” mother Kim Beahn said. “Each school should be given that decision as well.”

The lawsuit names Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles, who ordered all private schools stay closed through Oct. 1. 

“Schools are not just places where kids go,” Gayles said. “There are teachers, there are administrative staff, there are other staff who are involved who are maybe at risk for more severe complications.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan stepped in Monday, issuing an order saying the county can’t ban private schools from opening.

The parents who filed the lawsuit say they want to make sure the county doesn’t issue a similar order in the future.

The parents said safety is a top priority, but so is going back to school.

“We’re really concerned with their character development, with their faith development, and these aspects can’t be conveyed over distance learning,” Rizzo said.

Two private schools — Brookewood School in Kensington and The Avalon School in Silver Spring — also joined the lawsuit.

“These schools have been working for months and months and have spent millions of dollars to safely retrofit and reprogram their schools for a safe reopening,” said attorney Tim Maloney, who helped file the suit.

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