LAUSD to Send Legal Aid to San Diego Unified for COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Appeal

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
January 25, 2022Updated: January 26, 2022

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is offering legal aid to the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) in its appeal of a ruling that struck down its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students.

The LAUSD Board of Education authorized on Jan. 25 its legal team to aid SDUSD in their legal appeal whose outcome could set a precedent for school districts and vaccine mandates in the state.

The two Southern California school districts have undergone a parallel journey when it comes to vaccine mandates for students.

Back in September, both the LAUSD and the SDUSD issued mandates requiring students over the age of 12 to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of 2022’s spring semester—though neither districts’ mandates took effect according to the original schedule.

On Dec. 14, the LAUSD postponed its vaccine mandate until fall 2022 amid a lawsuit filed in October by parent advocacy groups The California Chapter of Children’s Health Defense and Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK). The groups argue that the LAUSD overstepped its authority by requiring a vaccine that isn’t mandated by the state.

Nicole Pearson, attorney for the groups, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that she thinks the deadline delay is a capitulation to the groups’ lawsuit, which claimed the board “imposed unreasonable fall compliance deadlines” that caused “significant educational disruption.”

Meanwhile, in October, the SDUSD faced a lawsuit brought by parent advocacy group Let Them Choose, which argued that only the state, and not the school board, has the power to add a vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for on-campus learning and pointed out that the district does not allow for personal belief exemptions as required by state law.

San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer tentatively ruled in the group’s favor on Dec. 20, saying in the ruling that the SDUSD’s mandate lacks a “personal belief exemption and therefore [is] even stricter than what the [Department of Public Health] could itself impose upon learned consideration.”

The SDUSD appealed Meyer’s decision the very next day, meaning that the case will be reviewed by an appellate court. If the ruling is upheld in the appellate court, it will set a precedent for the rest of the state banning school districts from mandating vaccines.

A spokesperson for Let Them Choose told KUSI News in December, “Let Them Choose is confident that we will prevail in an appellate court and look forward to setting binding statewide precedent that protects students’ rights to in-person education.”

However, those plans could soon be disrupted by changes in the state law, as state Sen. Richard Pan proposed state legislation this week to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccines that California students must receive to attend on-campus instructions.

If passed, the statewide mandate would take effect at the beginning of 2023.