San Diego Judge Strikes Down School District’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

A California state judge ruled on Monday that the San Diego Unified School District's (SDUSD) COVID-19 "vaccine" mandate for students was "inconsistent with state law." The ruling is a hopeful step towards freeing students across the nation from being forcefully injected "with a liability-free, novel medical product in order to attend school."

The decision will allow all SDUSD students to continue with in-person learning regardless of whether or not they've been injected with a COVID-19 "vaccine." Agreeing with Petitioners' assertion that SDUSD's "Vaccination Roadmap" conflicts with California law, the Honorable Judge John Meyer said it's within the purview of the state Legislature, not school districts, to mandate vaccination for in-person school attendance.

Screenshot / SDUSD Covid Dashboard

Funded by the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), lead attorney Aaron Siri filed a lawsuit on behalf of a parent whose child was faced with being forced to get the COVID-19 jab to stay in school. The suit, J.D. vs. San Diego Unified School District, was joined with a lawsuit filed by parent groups Let Them Breath and Let Them Choose. Speaking after Judge Meyer's ruling, Sharon McKeeman, the founder of the two parent groups, 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."

Judge Meyer's ruling effectively protects thousands of unvaccinated students from being booted out of in-person school. Beginning Jan. 24, SDUSD's mandate would have forced students 16 and older to learn remotely through independent study if they had not received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by Monday. According to school district data, as of Dec. 15, nearly 20 percent of San Diego Unified's approximately 14,000 students 16 and older have not received any dose of the "vaccine."

Meanwhile, Monday's ruling does not affect San Diego Unified's COVID vaccination mandate for staff. About 15 percent of the district's 14,000 staff members have not gotten any dose of the COVID vaccine, according to district data as of Dec. 15. The district has said that staff who do not comply with the COVID-19 "vaccine" mandate and do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will be terminated.

The court emphasized that California Education Code Section 35160 states that SDUSD "may initiate and carry on any program, activity, or may otherwise act in any manner which is not in conflict with or inconsistent with, or preempted by, any law and which is not in conflict with the purposes for which school districts are established."

Meyer's ruling outlined the California Legislature's efforts to regulate vaccination in schools, beginning with the smallpox vaccine. In 1890, the California Supreme Court upheld the Vaccination Act, which granted the power to mandate vaccination solely to the Legislature. The Legislature commissioned the authority to control the spread of smallpox to the Department of Public Health. Nonetheless, it stated explicitly that "no rule or regulation on the subject of vaccination shall be adopted by school or local health authorities."

The court's ruling directly affects only San Diego Unified. But the order could influence challenges to COVID-19 "vaccine" mandates that numerous other California school districts have adopted. Meyer wrote in his ruling that the California Legislature has written laws to mandate ten vaccines for attendance, which were placed on the list "after careful consideration of the public health risk of these diseases, cost to the state health system, communicability, and rates of transmission." The Act gave the state public health department the authority to order additional vaccines such as the COVID-19 jab. He added new vaccine requirements must allow for personal belief exemptions. He wrote:

"The statutory scheme leaves no room for each of the over 1,000 individual school districts to impose a patchwork of additional vaccine mandates, including those like the (San Diego Unified vaccine) Roadmap that lack a personal belief exemption and therefore are even stricter than what the (state health department) could itself impose upon learned consideration."

In 2015, after intense and heated debate, the California Legislature removed California's personal belief exemption. Still, although the law allows for additional vaccines to be added to the existing ten, California's Department of Public Health has not added the COVID-19 vaccine to its list of required vaccines. And if it did, by law, a personal belief exemption would have to be included. Furthermore, what comprises an exemption for personal belief or medical reason is already defined in the law and wouldn't be the incredibly narrow interpretations many districts are trying to execute. Judge Meyer stated in his ruling:

"Recognizing the need for additional vaccine mandates that may arise in the future, the Legislature added a 'number 11' mandating that schoolchildren be vaccinated against '[any] other disease deemed appropriate by the [State Department of Public Health], taking into consideration the recommendations'" of immunization advisory committees of DHHS, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"However, because the addition of a new mandate via this 'catch all' provision 'disrupts the careful balancing of the various rights involved' in the legislative process, the Legislature decided to maintain the 'personal beliefs' exemption for new vaccination requirements added by the DPH."

As pointed out by Del Bigtree's The Highwire when discussing Judge Meyer's ruling, "The basis for this decision, that school boards in California do not have the authority to require a COVID-19 vaccine, would apply to all school boards across California that are seeking to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine." Indeed, the legal victory in San Diego "follows another high-profile move by Los Angeles Unified School District last week. As over 30,000 students faced removal from school due to their refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the LAUSD school board voted to delay the mandate and its penalties until the fall of 2022." Immediately following the court's ruling, ICAN's lead attorney Siri took to Twitter to speak of Monday's win, stating:

"Just had oral argument with the court and proud to report COVID-19 V mandate to attend school in San Diego, CA officially struck down. Basis for ruling applies statewide. Today liberty prevailed. Congrats Cali and thanks to @icandecide for making the lawsuit possible."

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