San Diego Unified board votes to appeal judge’s vaccine ruling

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday night to appeal a ruling that challenges the district’s vaccine mandate for eligible students and staff.

On Monday, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer ruled against the mandate, saying it contradicts state law because only the state can impose mandates without religious or personal belief exemptions. Under the district’s roadmap, starting Jan. 24, unvaccinated students would have to take part in remote learning unless they have an approved medical exemption.

The ruling came following a lawsuit filed by the local parent advocacy group Let Them Choose, which with the Let Them Breathe group, have repeatedly challenged mask and vaccine mandates in the classroom.

Following Meyer’s ruling, the district released a statement arguing against Meyer’s interpretation of the law.

“Even Judge Meyer acknowledged in his ruling that the vaccine mandate ‘appears to be necessary and rational, and the district’s desire to protect its students from COVID-19 is commendable,’” the district’s statement reads.

In an emailed statement following Tuesday’s vote, Let Them Choose founder Sharon McKeeman said the group is “confident” it will win in an appellate court and that “we look forward to setting binding statewide precedent that protects students’ rights to in-person education.”

“Judge Meyers ruled in our favor on the clear legal issues that school districts do not have authority to mandate a patchwork of vaccines or contradict state law by rejecting personal belief exemptions and we do not expect the appellate court to come to a different conclusion,” McKeeman said.

“In the meantime, there is a ruling in place against the SDUSD vaccine mandate and they cannot enforce it.”

As of last week, more than 5.89 million doses of the three vaccines now available had been administered throughout the San Diego County region. More than 2.72 million county residents — around 86.5% of all those eligible — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 2.42 million San Diegans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing roughly 76.9% of eligible residents.

In addition, 601,951 booster shots have been administered in the region.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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