More than 400 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) employees were fired this week for not complying with the district’s vaccine mandate, officials confirmed.
Board Vice President Nick Melvoin told the Los Angeles Daily News that more than 400 school staff members were fired this week. A spokesperson for the district told the outlet that specifically, about 496 were let go after a 7–0 school board vote.
“Despite no one’s excitement at dismissing over 400 (staff members), the overall majority of our employees have been vaccinated and one of the reasons we’ve been able to keep schools open since August,” Melvoin said. Overall, about 1,100 LAUSD staff have been fired over the mandate so far, he continued.
The former employees were placed on leave in mid-October when LAUSD staffers were supposed to have reached the deadline to receive their first shot under the district’s vaccine mandate, the district spokesperson said. Employees had to receive their second dose by Nov. 15.
The Epoch Times has contacted LAUSD for comment.
Megan Reilly, the LAUSD’s interim superintendent, said the mass firings was a difficult but necessary decision.
“Parting ways with individuals who choose not to be vaccinated is an extremely difficult, but necessary decision to ensure the safety of all in our school communities,” Reilly said in her statement Tuesday. “We wish everyone the best in their future endeavors and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
But on Tuesday, before the board held its vote, an LAUSD staff member, Tracey Schroeder, pleaded with officials not to go through with firing hundreds of workers. Schroeder argued that individuals with a previous COVID-19 infection have a natural immunity to the virus.
“I’ve got 24 years and I just want to be back on my school site with the students that I love, with the staff that I love, with the school that hired me,” she said, according to the LA Daily News. “On behalf of all the teachers, please reconsider. There is natural immunity … There’s choice. And there’s no need for such extreme measures.”
A union that represents Los Angeles school staffers, in response to the mass firings, described the move as extreme.
“While we support and encourage vaccination for our entire school community, we believe LAUSD’s punitive approach is shutting the doors on experienced and dedicated school workers and exacerbating staffing shortages that already existed before the pandemic that, ultimately, affect student services,” the SEIU Local 99 told Fox News in a statement on Wednesday.
SEIU Local 99 added that it is “demanding that LAUSD honor the re-employment rights of workers by following a reduction-in-force process which will grant all workers up to 39 months to return to LAUSD when they are vaccinated.”
The LAUSD has faced a number of lawsuits over its vaccination mandate. Last month, a legal defense fund and six district employees filed a legal complaint against LAUSD over its mandates.