September 14, 2021

Vaccine Mandate at LAUSD Leads to a Cease-and-Desist and Upset Parents

On September 9, 2021, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted 6-0 to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students 12 and up.  As with Culver City USD’s similar mandate, this is beyond the authority of local school districts, and Nicole Pearson, an attorney for Children’s Health Defense’s California Chapter (CHD-CA), has served them with a Cease and Desist letter with a deadline of Friday, September 17, to avoid further legal action.

Illegal Vaccine Mandates

A school district mandating an experimental vaccine is illegal in at least two ways, as Ms. Pearson notes in her letter.

First, only the California Department of Public Health or a formal law can add a vaccine to those required for school attendance.  The school district cannot impose requirements beyond the current laws.

Second, there isn’t even an FDA approved vaccine available for students under 16. No government agency can mandate a vaccine that is under Emergency Use Authorization.

Parent Opposition

Many parents sent letters, contacted the board members, and reached out for help.  Children’s Health Defense’s California Chapter wrote a sample letter for them to send to the LAUSD Board, urging the board to vote “no.”

Now that the board has ignored their input, parents are faced with an impossible choice: submit to an illegal requirement, or fight it directly. To support these parents, CHD-CA created a letter asserting their rights under the law. This letter notifies the board that these parents and their children will not be complying with the illegal action the board has taken. It begins,

“As a parent with a child in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), I am hereby
asserting my child’s right to an in-person education as guaranteed by our California
Constitution, free of any unlawful and coercive new vaccination requirements. LAUSD
lacks legal authority to add any new vaccine requirement in order for my child to attend
in-person school.”

Read the Letter

Legislating School Vaccine Requirements

For the California legislature to make this vaccine a condition of in-person schooling, a bill would need to be authored and pass through the normal steps to become law.  This is generally not a very quick process.  While there are sneaky ways to speed it up, bills usually take months to be reviewed by various committees in both the Senate and the Assembly, sometimes being amended and re-reviewed several times before being voted on. Even then, the Governor has veto power.  No bill requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person schooling has even been proposed yet.

CDPH and School Vaccine Requirements

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) was granted the ability to add vaccines to the list required for in-person schooling by SB 277 in 2015.  The law reads

(a) As used in this chapter, “governing authority” means the governing board of each school district or the authority of each other private or public institution responsible for the operation and control of the institution or the principal or administrator of each school or institution.
(b) The governing authority shall not unconditionally admit any person as a pupil of any private or public elementary or secondary school, child care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center, unless, prior to his or her first admission to that institution, he or she has been fully immunized. The following are the diseases for which immunizations shall be documented:
(1) Diphtheria.
(2) Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(3) Measles.
(4) Mumps.
(5) Pertussis (whooping cough).
(6) Poliomyelitis.
(7) Rubella.
(8) Tetanus.
(9) Hepatitis B.
(10) Varicella (chickenpox).
(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Section (b)(11) is what allows the CDPH, referred to as “the department,” to add to this list.  No other organization was granted authority to add to the list of required vaccines.  So far, the CDPH has not issued any order or regulation adding SARS-Cov2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 illness) to the list of diseases children must be immunized against.

Exemptions Required

California law is very clear that if the CDPH does add a new immunization requirement, both medical and personal belief exemptions must be allowed. While medical exemptions are vanishingly hard to come by, a personal belief exemption should be easier to submit. Prior to SB277, there was a specific form that someone submitting a PBE had to submit, signed by a particular kind of medical authority. However, since LAUSD is not the proper authority to add a new vaccine requirement, and CDPH itself has not added it to the immunization schedule, there is currently no process in place for submitting a PBE. This is another illegal end-run around California law that LAUSD is attempting, and it cannot stand.

The CDPH has a whole page on their Shots For Schools website about exemptions. You can find the personal belief exemption information at the very bottom.

The Deadline Looms

The LAUSD board has now been told, in the clearest of terms, that they have exceeded their lawful authority.  The Cease and Desist letter gives them a deadline of 5:00 pm on Friday, September 17, 2021 to not only retract their mandate, but to make an announcement to the general public about it.  While we are hopeful they will choose to do the right thing, our letter makes it plain that legal action will follow if they don’t. The clock is ticking.

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