SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif.—The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees recently voted 4–2 to send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for K–12 students.
The motion, authored by Trustees Gila Jones and Martha McNicholas, drew large crowds of parents to the meeting on Oct. 20, where they spoke overwhelmingly against the mandate.
The resolution noted that many parents would pull their students out of school over the matter, damaging their education and the school system.
“While we respect the right of parents to choose the most suitable educational program for their children, we believe the vaccine mandate will result in substantial numbers of families choosing to leave traditional in-person K-12 schools, thereby crippling California’s existing school systems,” the resolution reads.
“While the Board of Trustees of the Capistrano Unified School District understands the goals of the governor and the [California Department of Public Health] to stop the spread of COVID- 19, we believe that the governor’s K-12 student vaccine mandate is ill-advised and in opposition to the educational and social-emotional goals of the State and the District.”
Trustees McNicholas, Jones, Lisa Davis, and Board President Judy Bullockus voted for it, with Trustees Amy Hanacek and Krista Castellanos voting against.
“We know that many [parents] will remove their children and homeschool or use some other alternative program that may not provide the kind of educational quality we believe we present in this district,” Jones said. “We feel that whether you are in favor of vaccines or not, the fact that children would be, in our belief, harmed by being removed from the district is something that needs to be brought to the state’s attention.”
Hanacek said she felt the resolution was purposeless and would not actually change anything.
“We are not addressing and representing a huge swath of this school district. This is really sad to me. And again, it’s not going to fulfill anything that you want at the end of the day,” she said. “I understood the integrity of the original resolution, the ideal way is to have students in our classrooms, and they are in our classrooms, which is excellent. But along the way, we’ve lost our way. And I think we are now not appealing to anybody or any voice.”
The resolution also pointed out California Department of Public Health data, stating that the California COVID-19 case rate for ages 17 and under is proportionally lower than any other age group.
Mike McDermott, a parent of children in the district, said during the public comment period that he is pro-vaccine, but doesn’t feel children should be forced to take it without parents knowing its long-term effects.
“We have a deep concern over this vaccine mandate and the continued masking of our children in our schools,” he said. “I’m pro-vaccine, my wife’s pro-vaccine, we’re both vaccinated, but I’m not in favor of forcing our kids and my neighbor’s kids to get a vaccine just so they can receive a public education.
“I’m very concerned about the risk versus reward, and that we’re essentially holding our children’s education hostage to meet some government mandate that does not continue their education. As a taxpayer, as a voter, and most importantly, as a parent, I’m asking you to fight this mandate with all of your power as elected officials.”
Another parent said she plans to pull her children out of school if the mandate goes into effect.
“I’m a health care worker who was forced to get the vaccine. I will not allow my children to get this vaccine,” she said. “I oppose strongly the vaccine for my children. I want my rights for my children, my choice to decide any of their medical procedures. As per the Constitution of the United States, we have the right of freedom of choice, and we will choose to pull our three children out of school if this becomes mandated.”