Judge denies order to groups fighting LAUSD student vaccine mandate

A judge has denied a temporary restraining order sought by two nonprofit groups representing parents of nearly 1,500 Los Angeles Unified students who oppose the LAUSD’s student COVID-19 vaccine mandate on grounds such decisions should be left to the state Department of Public Health.

“Balancing the likelihood of success and the relative harm to be suffered, the court is not persuaded emergency relief is warranted,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue wrote Friday in response to the TRO application brought by the California Chapter of Children’s Health Defense as well as a second group, Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids.

Waiting seven weeks after the Board of Education approved the mandate on Sept. 9 to file the TRO application undercuts the groups’ contention that their members will suffer immediate severe or irreparable harm, Hogue further wrote.

The primary component of the mandate — the restriction of access to all LAUSD facilities — does not take effect until Jan. 10, Hogue noted.

“There is accordingly no emergency with respect to the students’ ability to attend classes in person,” the judge wrote.

The only immediate impact of the resolution was the requirement that students participating in extracurricular activities to have been fully vaccinated by Sunday, but that harm is lower than the prospective harm to the LAUSD if it is forced to suspend the already implemented resolution, Hogue said.

The judge said the groups can still seek relief later through a preliminary injunction.

About 930 LAUSD parents are members of PERK and another 540 of CHD-CA, according to the petition filed Oct. 13.

The LAUSD student vaccine mandate requires students 12 years and older, as a condition of continuing their in-person education, to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine by specified dates during the fall term. The lawsuit contends that even with no COVID-19 vaccine requirement in place prior to returning to in-person learning in August, LAUSD students have not experienced severe COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations or death.

“Given this, it is incomprehensible that a state that already has the lowest COVID-19 rates in the entire country without any vaccine mandate would insist on being the first state in the nation to impose a vaccine requirement on healthy teens and pre-teens as a condition to continuing in-person education, or why (the LAUSD) chose to impose this onerous and educationally disruptive requirement right in the middle of a school term,” the petition states.

A parent who submitted a sworn declaration in support of the petition and the TRO application, identified only as J.K., said her daughter, K.T., is a junior at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies and that their family was “horrified by the district’s decision to require the shot so late into the school year without open discussion with its community or consideration of the impact the decision might have on families in its community.”

J.K. said her family is a pro-vaccine and pro-science family, but also favors the freedom to make one’s own medical decisions.

“If the mandate sticks, it will cause severe stress on our family,” J.K. said. “We will have to decide if we (have to) move, which not only impacts school choice, but also my husband’s and my employment, as well as my ability to (take) care of my elderly mother, who lives nearby and who I primarily care for daily.”

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