Piedmont Unified School District Sued Over Illegal COVID Vaccine Mandates
By the Children’s Health Defense – California Chapter Team
The California Chapter of Children’s Health Defense filed its second lawsuit against a rogue K-12 school district imposing an illegal COVID-19 vaccine student mandate – this time against Piedmont Unified School District.
On September 22, 2021, Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) adopted a controversial district-wide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students aged 5 and older. PUSD Board Members voted for the mandate, despite admitting the month prior that no existing law supported school boards imposing new vaccine mandates on students.
Children’s Health Defense’s California Chapter (CHD-CA), Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK) and a Piedmont parent, through counsel, jointly filed an action in Alameda County Superior Court on November 18, 2021 against PUSD, the Superintendent and school board members, in their official capacities. The suit seeks mandamus and declaratory and injunctive relief from the illegal mandates.
Piedmont School Board Members Acknowledged Lack of Authority to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines, but Do It Anyway
On August 25, 2021, PUSD Board Members discussed the district’s COVID-19 safety measures, and acknowledged that “there is currently no [Education Code], state or federal law, or case history that covers mandating COVID vaccines for students.” State law is in fact clear: the only authority that can add a vaccine to the schedule is the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), not a school or school district. Regardless, the PUSD Board reconvened September 22, 2021, voting for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for PUSD students. Students of course had already matriculated in August, leaving families with few options to deal with this drastic change after the start of the school year.
PUSD Transgresses Two Laws: Coercing Students into a Clinical Trial, and Mandating Independent Study
PUSD’s Board voted to require students receive COVID-19 vaccines and provide verification of their fully-vaccinated status by November 17, 2021 (if they are twelve or older) or by January 4, 2022 (if the student is aged five to eleven.) If students do not comply, they will be disenrolled and transferred to independent study.
Independent study in California public schools is also voluntary, by law. Pursuant to Section 11700 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, however, independent study “is an optional educational alternative in which no pupil may be required to participate.” The code section further states that “pupils… must not be coerced” into independent study. PUSD blatantly disregarded this regulation against coercion.
Federal emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was granted for use in children ages 5-11 on October 29, 2021. Emergency Use Authorization products are by definition investigational, or experimental. PUSD is now the only school district in the United States to coerce their youngest students to participate in a clinical trial and mandate COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 12. Many of these elementary school students have not yet learned to read and write, so it is unclear how independent study packets will help them acquire these skills. PUSD is endangering Piedmont school children’s right to an education as stated in the California Constitution.
Only CDPH Can Require COVID Vaccine for In-Person Schooling
The CDPH is the only agency permitted by law to require a new vaccination for attendance at a California public or private school, pursuant to California Health and Safety Code Section 120335(b). Currently, there are ten (10) required vaccines for children to attend school in-person. Section 120335(b)(11) allows for additional vaccines only if exemptions are allowed for both medical reasons and personal beliefs.” (HSC Section 120338)
PUSD does not have the authority to add a new vaccine. In fact, no California school board does. As California’s Lucerne Valley Unified School District stated in its Board Resolution 2122-10, ‘[a]n individual public school district Board does not have discretion to condition the admission of its students upon a requirement that the students receive specific additional vaccinations beyond those that are already required under state law.” PUSD ignored the substantive procedures established by the California legislature to impose a new vaccine on schoolchildren. It made this medical decision with very little public participation during a remotely-held board meeting, where members blithely amended their existing Administrative Regulation and Board Policy AR5141.31/BP5141.31 to include COVID-19 on the list of required vaccines for students for in-person learning in their district, depriving their students of equal access to education.
After the PUSD Board issued its own mandate, on October 1, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom announced CDPH would add COVID-19 to the list of required vaccines in accordance with HSC 120335(b), after full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a COVID-19 vaccine for school-aged children.
The day after Governor Newsom made his announcement, Superintendent Randall Booker stated PUSD would retain its own COVID-19 vaccine mandate, even though they knew the COVID vaccines do not have full approval for children. In their October 13, 2021 board meeting, Board Members and the Superintendent laugh (at roughly 2h 14m) about not waiting for full FDA approval, opining brazenly that: “Our mandate is way better.”
All available COVID-19 vaccines are still under EUA, for all age groups, adults or children, because the only ostensibly FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, is not currently available since BioNTech will not risk lawsuits, given they have full liability for any injuries or deaths caused by Comirnaty. Federal law (21 USC 360bbb-3) requires informed consent for any emergency use authorization products, and does not allow coercion or mandating of such treatments. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) regulates the protection of human subjects in research, with more strict protections for children. Federal law is clear that children should never be subjects of medical experimentation when they are not directly benefitted by it.
Vaccinating children against COVID only pushes additional risk onto this vulnerable population, as they have a statistically 0% chance of gravely suffering from or dying from COVID; while they are in danger from vaccine injuries, including heart injuries like myocarditis. There is also no medical case to vaccinate children to protect others, or to somehow eradicate COVID, as the COVID shots neither prevent COVID infection nor transmission of COVID.
Piedmont Board Members Disregard the Law and Safety Concerns
Piedmont is a small city of approximately 11,000 people, with a school district consisting of three elementary schools, one middle school, two high schools and one adult school. This is a small oasis surrounded on all sides by the large, bustling city of Oakland, CA. Such a small community should engender close ties to neighbors and local families of the community, yet the PUSD Board Members and Superintendent have ignored parents who cite the law.
Instead of working with the community, the Board blindsided PUSD families in the middle of the fall term with the illegal vaccine mandate, leaving many PUSD parents scrambling. Their choices include: submitting to illegal forced vaccination, attempting to obtain a medical or religious exemption, removing their children from school, or enrolling them in private school or home-school. Some of these alternatives are not feasible during the middle of the fall term. Lower-income families have fewer options, leaving these parents in an especially untenable position of having to choose between their education or risking their children’s health.
CHD-CA and PERK will not stand idle and allow rogue school boards to bypass existing state law which bars the addition of new vaccines as a condition for in-person schooling in California, except by the CDPH, and only after full approval for each age group. PUSD is the second K-12 school district after Los Angeles Unified School District to be served by our attorneys. Transgressions by other school districts will be met with swift legal action as well.
What You Can Do
The lawsuit has been filed, but the cost of suing an entity like PUSD is not small. We need your help. Please donate today to help us end illegal COVID-19 school vaccine mandates!