The San Diego Unified School District's Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday night to appeal Judge John Meyer's Monday ruling that struck down the district's vaccine mandate. When ruling against the mandate, Meyer cited that the measure contradicts state law by not permitting religious or personal belief exemptions. He explained that only the state legislature has the authority to implement this type of order without exemptions.
Meyer's decision, which follows a lawsuit funded by Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) and led by attorney Aaron Siri, allows all SDUSD students to continue with in-person learning regardless of whether or not they've been injected with a COVID-19 "vaccine." Approved by the Board of Education, under the district's COVID roadmap, starting Jan. 24, unvaccinated students who are 16 and older would be kicked out of school and forced to begin remote learning unless they have an approved medical exemption.
In response to the judge's ruling, the district's attorney, Mark R. Bresee, issued a statement on Monday saying:
"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. 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.' The district is considering its options in response to this ruling."
Resolved to mandate the emergency use authorization (EUA) COVID-19 "vaccines" for students 16 years of age and older, the five-member SDUSD Board of Education sent a message to families and staff following its vote to appeal Judge Meyer's decision. The message read:
Dear San Diego Unified Family,
As our country and our community enters a new and dangerous stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Education met this afternoon and agreed to file an appeal in order to keep our vaccine mandate for students ages 16 and up in place. Vaccines remain the best way to protect the health and safety of our students, and we are 100-percent determined to maintain the vaccination mandate. The vote today by the Board was unanimous.
Additionally, the vaccine mandate for all school staff remains in place and has not been challenged in court, so all employees are reminded to get vaccinated and boosted if they are eligible.
The Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson also urged all eligible parents and students to take advantage of the fact that safe and effective vaccines are now available for everyone above the age of 5. Please visit our COVID-19 Vaccine website for more information.
San Diego Unified School District
Judge Meyer's ruling comes after a Federal Court sided with SDUSD and its Board of Education in their efforts to force children to get the jab. On Dec. 6, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals followed the San Diego Superior Court in denying an "emergency" attempt to halt the mandate. The court agreed SDUSC is "acting in the best interests of students" instead of discriminating based on religion, as had been claimed.
With 0.00%—0.03% of all child COVID-19 cases resulting in death in the U.S., the vaccine mandate is just one part of San Diego Unified's exhaustive strategy to keep students protected from COVID-19 while at school. Avoiding natural immunity altogether, the district's measures include requiring masks on all district properties, social distancing and tracking of student cohorts, investing in significant upgrades to air filtration and other safety infrastructure, and providing regular testing.
Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne leads SDUSD's five-member Board of Education. In 2020, amid heavy candidate-specific spending from the teacher's union, three seats on the Board were up for grabs. The election delivered the opportunity for potential change in the spirit of the Board. However, the two incumbents up for re-election—Richard Barrera and Whitehurst-Payne—had a significant advantage in the race strengthened by San Diego Education Association spending, as did newcomer Sabrina Bazzo.
Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Choose and Let Them Breathe—a Plaintiff in the lawsuit led by Siri—said she was disappointed but not surprised by the district's decision to appeal. She noted that "San Diego Unified has seemed very set on going forward with this mandate even when it violates students' rights and state law." Elaborating on SDUSD's vote to appeal, McKeeman said she looks forward to setting binding precedent statewide, adding, "if we prevail in an appellate court, that would be even more binding." She continued in a statement:
"Let Them Choose is confident that we will prevail in an appellate court, and we look forward to setting binding statewide precedent that protects students' rights to in-person education. Judge Meyers ruled in our favor on the clear legal issues that school districts do not have authority to mandate a patchwork of vaccines or contradict state law by rejecting personal belief exemptions, and we do not expect the appellate court to come to a different conclusion. In the meantime, there is a ruling in place against the SDUSD vaccine mandate, and they cannot enforce it."