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Judge Strikes Down Los Angeles School’s Vaccine Mandate as Illegal

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A Los Angeles judge has struck down L.A. Unified’s student COVID-19 vaccine mandate, ruling that the school district “exceeded its authority” and that “the power to require children to be vaccinated to attend school lies with the state.”

“The ruling, however, has no immediate effect within the L.A. Unified School District, because the district in May postponed its mandate until at least July 2023 — a move that aligned with the state decision to pause its own school vaccine requirement until then. LAUSD was the first of the nation’s largest school systems to institute a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students, and despite the delay, school board members were resolute in defending it against lawsuits,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff’s ruling represented a significant win for “Let Them Breathe,” a California-based group that has opposed mask and vaccine mandates.

“Judge Beckloff’s ruling confirms that individual school districts do not have the authority to impose local vaccination requirements in excess of statewide requirements,” said Arie L. Spangler, a member of the legal team that pursued the case. “We are very pleased with the ruling, as it ensures that no child will be forced out of the classroom due to their COVID-19 vaccination status.”

“HUGE NEWS: A judge ruled this morning that LASchools’ student Covid vaccine mandate was illegal, blocking LAUSD from sending kids to independent study for not getting the Covid vaccine,” Reopen California tweeted.

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“Even though LAUSD delayed their mandate to align with the state timeline, they still intended on excluding kids from in-person instruction if they did not get the Covid vaccine,” Reopen California added.

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However, the ruling did not address the issue of employee vaccine mandates. The district’s enforcement of that requirement remains in effect.

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“Beckloff wrote he had earlier thought that the school district’s student vaccine resolution fell short of a mandate because it affected only the manner of instruction and not the content. Unvaccinated students would have been transferred to online instruction under the policy. But in his ruling, Beckloff said the evidence presented persuaded him otherwise,” the LA Times reported. “The judge cited the example of D.F., a student who would have been forced to move from a magnet program that specialized in science to an online study program.”

“Thus, while the Resolution is a campus community health and safety measure, it also dictates who may be enrolled and continue to attend particular schools within the district,” the judge wrote in his nine-page decision.

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“If D.F. remains unvaccinated, he will be required to leave his current school with its curriculum and programs to be enrolled in a new school within the district … where it appears his curriculum would be very different than at his current school. Thus, the Resolution is not merely about how education is delivered or who may be physically present on campus as the court previously viewed it. Instead, the Resolution dictates which school the student may attend, and the curriculum he may continue to receive.”

The court also noted that the state’s administrative process for adding a vaccine is “subject to a personal belief exemption.”

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