LOS ANGELES—The father of a freshman student at Granada Hills Charter has brought a legal action against the school, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly on behalf of his daughter, alleging the district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate discriminates against the girl on religious grounds.
The Los Angeles Superior Court petition filed Friday, Dec. 3, asked a judge to allow the unvaccinated girl to continue with in-person learning and to direct the district to not discriminate against students who do not get vaccinated because of their religious beliefs.
An LAUSD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Granada Hills Charter is the largest public charter school in the nation with more than 5,800 students. The school has been recognized by the California Department of Education as a distinguished school and has received a Gold Ribbon Award from the department.
Beginning Jan. 10, students age 12 and over who do not have proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will not be permitted on school campuses and will be referred to the district’s independent study program at City of Angels, unless an exemption or conditional admissions apply, under a Sept. 9 LAUSD Board of Education order.
As with other immunizations for students, state law does not recognize religious or personal belief exemptions.
As a matter of conscience based on religious beliefs, the petitioner’s father will not allow his children to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. He said his convictions are grounded in part on his belief that two of the four vaccines contain aborted stem cells.
“This is a sin that I do not want to partake in,” the petitioner’s father was quoted as stating in the court papers. “As a pro-life individual, I cannot partake in the vaccine with a pure conscience for God’s spirit dwells within me.”
The petitioner’s father is being forced to choose between the loss of his family’s religious convictions if he allows his daughter to be vaccinated on the one hand or seeing the girl lose a coveted educational opportunity in her formative years on the other, according to the court papers.
“His daughter has done no wrong,” the petition states. “[Her father] has done no wrong. Yet as a religious minority, they are treated in a disfavored manner by government officials due to government policy.”
While LAUSD teachers, staff members, and administrators are all given the opportunity to exercise their religious rights by seeking a religious exemption from the employee vaccination order, the same right is denied to the petitioner, the petition states.