Judge rules with parents against San Diego Unified in experimental vaccine mandate lawsuit
Last updated 12/20/2021 at 9:33pm
SAN DIEGO - A judge ruled against the San Diego Unified School District today in a lawsuit challenging its vaccine mandate for students.
San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer said the district's mandate, which does not permit religious or personal belief exemptions, contradicts
state law, because only the state legislature has the authority to implement such mandates without exemptions.
Meyer also ruled that while students are required to receive some vaccinations in order to attend in-person school, adding COVID-19 to the list
of required vaccinations without allowing personal belief exemptions is another exercise of authority that lies only with the state.
Under the district's roadmap, unvaccinated students must take part in remote learning via independent study. By the start of the district's second
semester on Jan. 24, unvaccinated students would not be allowed to continue with in-person instruction unless they have an approved medical exemption.
Meyer said that attendance in an independent study program must be voluntary, while such a program would be mandatory under the district's
The lawsuit which spurred Meyer's ruling was filed by local parents group Let Them Choose, an offshoot of Let Them Breathe, which has challenged
mask and vaccine mandates at the state and local level.
The COVID-19 vaccine has been controversial as a result of adverse reactions and deaths that have been reported to the CDC by minors that have been given the vaccine. Parents have continued to question the value of the vaccine since there is very little risk-benefit for young people.
The order came on the day district students were required to receive their second vaccine dose in order to be considered fully vaccinated and able to attend in-person instruction by the start of the second semester. The Let Them Breath website says, "Our focus is on helping parents advocate for protecting personal belief exemptions. We are not anti-tax; we are pro-choice."
In a statement, the school district said it disagreed with Meyer's interpretation of the law.
``The San Diego Unified School District is disappointed that Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer concluded only the state can act regarding
vaccinations, even though the law specifically allows and encourages local vaccination programs,'' the district's statement read. ``Even Judge Meyer
acknowledged in his ruling that the vaccine mandate `appears to be necessary and rational, and the district's desire to protect its students from COVID-19 is commendable.'''
In regards to a potential appeal, district officials said SDUSD ``is considering its options in response to this ruling.''
Let Them Breathe founder Sharon McKeeman said the group was ``thrilled'' with the ruling.
``Judge Meyer agreed with our legal arguments that school districts do not have authority to mandate vaccines, they cannot force students into
distance learning, and personal belief exemptions for new vaccines are protected under California State law,'' McKeeman said in a statement. ``This
decision that school districts do not have authority to require the COVID-19 vaccine echoes statewide, and it shows that parents coming together in a
grassroots movement to uphold our children's rights is powerful and effective.''
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