A northern California Christian boarding school has won the first legal battle in its fight to remain open.
The River View Christian Academy (RVCA) is located in rural Shasta County in Northern California and is operated as a ministry of Teen Rescue, a religious non-profit.
Judge Tamara Woods of the Shasta County Superior Court has issued a tentative ruling denying the state of California's motion for a preliminary injunction, in which the state sought to force the school's closure. Judge Woods expressed her concern with the First Amendment implications of the state's demands.
The state wants to re-label the school as a "community care facility" and put it under heavy regulation by the Department of Social Services. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) says such action would violate the school's religious mission.
It all started back in January when the RVCA was raided "Waco style" according to PJI attorneys. The raid was based on internet rumors about school housing drugs and weapons. The rumors were all unfounded.
But instead of backing down, the state continued its battle with the school imposing daily fines for regulation violations as an "unlicensed community care facility."
The fines were issued even though the state has confirmed three times over the past 10 years that RVCA is operating legally as a school.
Licensing is more than just an administrative headache—it would require the Christian school to relinquish its moral standards. For example, the state requires that licensed facilities allow students to have the right to engage in spiritual and sexual exploration, which contradicts the goals of many parents who enroll their kids in RVCA.
Teen Rescue was founded in 1989 by Phil Ludwig and launched the school in 1993. After a wildfire destroyed its campus in Southern California, it moved to its present, 250-acre location in rural Northern California. The campus includes dormitories, classrooms, a cafeteria, an athletic field, a library, and offices.