San Diego Judge Strikes Down School District’s Vax Mandate

The court rules that only the state can implement vaccination requirements, not local school districts.

  • In a challenge brought forth by the parent group Let Them Choose, California Superior Court Judge John Meyer struck down the San Diego Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate as inconsistent with state law.
  • The California legislature mandates 10 different vaccines for school attendance, and it gives authority to the state public health department to mandate additional vaccines, as long as the department allows for personal belief exemptions. However, the legislature does not empower the local school districts to impose their own requirements, Meyer holds.
  • “The statutory scheme leaves no room for each of the over 1,000 individual school districts to impose a patchwork of additional vaccine mandates, including those like the [San Diego Unified] Roadmap that lack a personal belief exemption and therefore are even stricter than what the [state health department] could itself impose upon learned consideration,” Meyer writes.
  • As Meyer is a state trial court judge, his ruling affects only San Diego. All the same, it has other districts wondering what it can mean for their own mandates.
  • Mark Bresee, an attorney who represents San Diego Unified, says that the district is considering its next steps.
  • While Governor Newsom’s public health department intends to require the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person school attendance—a plan which is consistent with Meyer’s ruling—a deadline has not yet been set because the state mandate is tied to full approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration. Though the Pfizer vaccine has full approval for everyone ages 16 and older, it only has emergency use authorization for children ages 5 to 15.
  • All the same, San Diego parents celebrate their victory. “Judge Meyer agreed with our legal arguments that school districts do not have authority to mandate vaccines, they cannot force students into distance learning, and personal belief exemptions for new vaccines are protected under California state law,” says Sharon McKeeman, founder of the groups Let Them Breathe and Let Them Choose, which has pursued litigation against vaccine mandates. “This decision . . . shows that parents coming together in a grassroots movement to uphold our children’s rights is powerful and effective.”
  • At the same time that Governor Newsom plans to mandate COVID shots for all public school students, American experts and foreign governments sound the alarm on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines’ potential side effects in young people.
  • Meanwhile, Pfizer steps up clinical trials for its shot in children under five.
  • Vaccine litigation continues nationwide: upon numerous legal theories, at both the state and federal levels. Though the United States Supreme Court is all but guaranteed to rule on the Biden Administration’s federal mandates, under current law, state governments have wide berth to impose vaccination requirements.