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Friday, January 21, 2022

Los Angeles School Board Fired Hundreds of Unvaccinated Employees

About 500 Los Angeles Unified School employees were fired on Tuesday, December 7 for refusing to comply with the county’s COVID-19 vaccination order.

The school board voted 7-0 on separate proposals to fire workers, most if not all of whom have allegedly been on leave since mid-October, when LAUSD employees were supposed to receive at least their first dose of vaccine. Employees were supposed to receive a second dose of the drug by November 15th.

Shortly after the October first dose deadline, the district reported that 97% of its approximately 73,000 employees were at least partially vaccinated or provided with a job due to medical or religious exemptions at the time. However, more than 2,200 employees were still not vaccinated.

On Tuesday, a county official provided an update, saying nearly 99% of employees had opted to get vaccinated. She also confirmed that 496 employees were laid off for failing to meet vaccination requirements, although the district did not say how many were class teachers. Fired employees who are later vaccinated may be eligible for re-employment, she said.

In this regard, the district also said on Tuesday that 85% of students currently meet the requirement that students 12 and older must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 85% level includes students who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, those who have been exempted for medical reasons, or who are eligible for parole. This latter group includes students such as the homeless or foster youth, students whose families serve in the military, or some special education students.

As for the layoffs of 496 employees this week, 425 were in line with actions taken by the board of directors in a closed meeting on Tuesday. Board interim secretary Amanda Werritt said the board had fired 418 undercover and seven certified employees in a 7-0 vote.

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In a statement following the meeting, interim superintendent Megan Reilly said the district cares deeply for its employees.

“Parting with people who have chosen not to get vaccinated is an extremely difficult but necessary solution to keep everyone safe in our school communities,” Reilly said. “We wish everyone the best of luck and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

Board Vice President Nick Melvoin also said on Tuesday that a total of about 1,100 employees, including those laid off on Tuesday, are currently not complying with the vaccination mandate or have not been exempted for medical or religious reasons. Additional payments or layoffs are expected in the coming weeks, he said.

Melvoin added that he is grateful to all the staff who received their images.

“While no one was worried about the layoffs of more than 400 (full-time employees), the vast majority of our employees have been vaccinated, which is one of the reasons we can keep schools open since August,” he said.

Prior to the board vote, County Clerk Tracy Schroeder pleaded with the board not to go through with layoffs and said experienced teachers trained in student communication should be on campus at a time when so many children seek social and emotional support.

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