This past Tuesday, one Superior Court judge issued a ruling striking down the COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The judge ruled that the second-biggest public school system in the country had gone outside of its power by trying to impose such a requirement that was beyond the power of the state of California.
The decision will not go into effect immediately because of the fact that the proposed mandate is being postponed until July of 2023, but the school board for the district has claimed they will stand resolute in its defense of the policy. It is still entirely unclear if the board members intend to appeal to the ruling.
One California-based organization that stands opposed to the mask and vaccine mandates, Let Them Breathe, rejoiced at hearing the ruling come down from Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff.
“Judge Beckloff’s ruling confirms that individual school districts do not have the authority to impose local vaccination requirements in excess of statewide requirements,” stated Arie L. Spangler, one of the legal representatives of the plaintiff. “We are very pleased with the ruling, as it ensures that no child will be forced out of the classroom due to their COVID-19 vaccination status.”
The ruling did not touch upon the vaccine mandate from the school district in regards to the district employees, which will stay in place. All of the school employees who work on campus throughout the L.A. Unified School District are fully vaccinated; staffers who refused to get the vaccine for COVID-19 have either been fired outright or gotten an exemption and have been moved to roles that will keep them off campuses.
Beckloff stated that he first thought that the policy for the school district stopped just short of a mandate because unvaccinated students would be allowed to carry on with online courses. The content of their education would be the same, despite the fact that the means of that education would be different. Despite this, the evidence shown throughout the case managed to change his mind. As an example, one student who had been identified as D.F. would have been kicked out of their magnet program for science and made to take less specialized online classes.
“Thus, while the Resolution is a campus community health and safety measure, it also dictates who may be enrolled and continue to attend particular schools within the district,” expressed the judge via his extensive nine-page decision. “If D.F. remains unvaccinated, he will be required to leave his current school with its curriculum and programs to be enrolled in a new school within the district … where it appears his curriculum would be very different than at his current school. Thus, the Resolution is not merely about how education is delivered or who may be physically present on campus as the court previously viewed it. Instead, the Resolution dictates which school the student may attend, and the curriculum he may continue to receive.”
The judge’s ruling stands entirely at odds with Governor Gavin Newsom (D), whose administration has claimed the L.A. Unified had the authority to implement stricter local mandates. The school district also tried to argue that even if it eventually lost any appeals, the ruling should only end up applying to the single plaintiff and not go further to encompass the students of the entire district.
However, Judge Beckloff disagreed, concluding, “The court finds no justification for such a limitation given the … lack of authority to adopt the Resolution.”