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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Suit on Piedmont Schools’ COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

PIEDMONT — With graduation and nearly 98% of Piedmont students vaccinated, the settlement of a lawsuit by two groups against the Piedmont Unified School District over its COVID-19 vaccination mandate is in the rear-view mirror.

Two non-profit groups, Children’s Health Defense and Perk (Protection of Children’s Education Rights), and Parents, identified as Jane Doe and Janet Doe, have filed a petition in the past about an administrative regulation regarding student vaccines for COVID-19. Challenged the passage of the PUSD in September.

The entire case was unconditionally settled in Alameda County Superior Court on April 27, with a judge completely setting aside the school district’s order for all students from kindergarten to 12th grade. Judge Brad Seligman ruled that the district failed to show why its policy should not be removed. The order came after Seligman granted Children’s Health Protection and Perk’s application for an optional writ of mandate, which prompted negotiations with the district.

Under the agreement, the district not only revoked the mandate, but also agreed not to consider any future mandates. With the lawsuit coming up, the school board had already revised its administrative regulation on vaccinations on 26 January.

“The decision led to a settlement agreement where the suit was dropped following the board’s decision to go back to the original vaccination policy. We would not say there is any connection between this decision and our recent increase in COVID cases, as our qualified students were vaccinated about 98% of the time,” said Brian Kilgore, communications director for PUSD.

Rita Barnett-Rose, an attorney for the California Chapter of Children’s Health Defense (CHD-CA), said, “This is a huge victory for school children and families not only within the district but for the entire state. CHD-CA and PERK Without the U.S.’s actions, this policy violates students’ right to individualized education without forcing them to take the experimental vaccine.”

When the District reversed its position, it said, “The District believes that students benefit more from an in-person educational experience than an independent study program. Because of this, and our incredible Given the high vaccination rate, superintendents are recommending that the Board of Education remove COVID-19 from board policy until the California Department of Public Health and the State of California add it to the list of required vaccinations in the Health and Safety Code.

“At this time, while we are experiencing remarkably high vaccination rates across all campuses, the district sees no educational value in transferring vaccine-hesitant students to an independent study program.”

According to data provided by the district earlier this year, the student body of Piedmont Beach Elementary School was 93.94% vaccinated for COVID-19, with 16 students not being vaccinated; Havens Elementary was vaccinated 95.84% of which 18 students were not vaccinated; Millennium High was 96.43% with no vaccinations; Piedmont High 99.51% with four illiterate; Piedmont Middle with 98.2% of unvaccinated students; And Wildwood Elementary was vaccinated 97.7%, with six students not being vaccinated.

Stepping back on the board’s decision last year, the school board was told in a September 14 report by Superintendent Randy Booker that “in the interest of public health, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for all age-eligible students.” All age-eligible students should receive both doses of the vaccine by November 17, 2021. Non-vaccinated students will be dropped out of school individually and sent to independent study.

At the time, the school board noted that the decision could be subject to legal challenge, which it was.

The lawsuit was filed by CDH-CA and Perk in Alameda County Superior Court on November 28, alleging that Piedmont’s mandate would force students to either get vaccinated or expelled, because there was no remote area in the district. Education is not an option.

Kilgore noted that the school board revised its vaccination regulation in January in response to the legal challenge, saying that students are still required to wear masks indoors at school. This week the school board’s president, Cory Semagal, said he had no comment about the lawsuit.

Linda Davis is a longtime Piedmont correspondent. Contact him at dlinda249@gmail.com for news tips or comments.

World Nation News Desk
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