Fresno council member wants city to sue Fresno Unified over distance learning

Not only will the city council not be moving forward with the proposed lawsuit, Bredefeld will be removed from its education subcommittee.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Councilmember Garry Bredefeld is suggesting legal action to push Fresno Unified to bring kids back to class after nearly a year of online learning.

"Parents are begging for intervention. They are begging for the schools to open for their kids and this is going to result in long-term effects for these young people," he said.

Bredefeld announced his intent to initiate a lawsuit against the school district at the next council meeting.

It was quickly shot down by Fresno City Council Vice President Nelson Esparza.

"I think we all want schools to reopen but this is obviously not the proper approach," Esparza said.

Esparza said the lawsuit would not be considered and that Bredefeld would be removed from the council's Education Committee.

As other Fresno County school districts continue to phase kids back into classrooms, Fresno Unified has repeatedly said it will not bring back students until Fresno County enters the 'orange tier' of California's reopening system.

Esparza said that could be as soon as this summer.

"We all want to reopen schools but I don't think that anybody wants to do that at the cost of public health. so we are moving in that direction," he said.

Bredefeld pointed to guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that schools can reopen safely even if teachers are not vaccinated against the coronavirus.

RELATED: CDC: Schools can safely reopen even if teachers aren't vaccinated for COVID-19

He said even without support from the council, he's confident some form of legal action will be taken for FUSD students to return to campus.

"What's next is we continue to put pressure on them. What's next is we look at perhaps bringing a lawsuit sponsored by people in the community," he said.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Fresno unified superintendent Bob Nelson addressed the suggested lawsuit saying it was 'politicizing an issue as serious as a safe and responsible return to schools in order to rally a support base'.

On Wednesday, Fresno Unified released the following statement:

"We want to validate that we ALL want to be back on campus with our Fresno Unified Family - but our return to in-person instruction must be done safely based on our local COVID-19 situation. Our strategic plan for reopening schools has always focused on the tenets of safety, stability, and high-quality instruction and will continue to do so.

As of yesterday, Fresno County is at a case rate of 30.3, and these rates are still higher than before we left for winter break when we had to shut down some academic and athletic small cohorts on campuses due to COVID-19 exposures.

We know that these past 11 months have been challenging on our entire Fresno Unified Family and our students, families, and staff's mental health are of utmost importance. We have increased our mental health supports significantly during this time of distance learning specifically through partnerships with Care Solace and Gaggle which includes a 24/7 on-call team of our psychologists and counselors to respond to any student mental health emergencies."
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