Judge denies parent groups’ bid for injunction against LAUSD’s vaccine mandate

A judge has denied a request by two parent groups for a preliminary injunction against the Los Angeles Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, finding that the balance of harms weighs in favor of health and safety over the shortcomings of remote learning.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff had heard arguments Wednesday, then took the case under submission before handing down his final ruling on Monday. He said the LAUSD had shown that “LAUSD’s community” will be more susceptible to the coronavirus with unvaccinated students on campus.

While off-campus learning may not be ideal, it provides an alternative form of education that minimizes the threat of COVID-19 to everyone, including the unvaccinated, the judge wrote.

Beckloff’s earlier tentative ruling also was to deny the request for the injunction, which was sought in a petition filed Oct. 13 by the California Chapter of Children’s Health Defense as well as a second group, Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids.

About 930 LAUSD parents are members of PERK and another 540 of CHD-CA, according to the court papers of the two nonprofit groups.

The mandate requires students 12 years and older to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine by specified dates as a condition of continuing their in-person education. The petitioners contended that there was no vaccine requirement in place prior to students returning to in-person learning in August and yet there was not a severe increase of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations or deaths.

Attorneys Nicole Pearson and Jessica Barsotti, on behalf of the petitioners, told the judge during arguments that the LAUSD vaccine resolution enacted Sept. 9 infringes on the authority of the state Department of Public Health, which they say has the power to decide whether to add another vaccine to the 10 already required for California students.

Pearson said the inadequacy of remote learning “is the reason why we are here” and added that if school districts are allowed to decide what vaccines their students must take, there is nothing to stop them from making students take Adderall — used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — to make them more focused in class, or from giving pupils birth control.

But according to Sue Ann Salmon Evans, school districts have responsibilities that go beyond education, including providing children with a safe environment.

In October, Judge Amy Hogue denied the petitioners’ request for a temporary restraining order.

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