One year from the day that California’s SB 277 was signed into law by Governor Brown, a dream team of lawyers from across the United States has filed a federal lawsuit against the State of California’s Department of Education and Department of Health for depriving its residents of their constitutional right to an education.
Approximately 2.5% of California school-aged children use a personal belief exemption to opt out of vaccinations that violate their parents’ religious or deeply-held beliefs, or are deemed unnecessary or potentially harmful by their parents and health care providers. The children of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs have been partially vaccinated or show antibody titers that qualify as proof of immunity to disease, and yet they are among the tens of thousands of healthy, disease-free children whose right to an education will be violated when school starts in the last few days of August.
In a beautifully written memo in support of their request for a temporary restraining order and injunction against the state, lawyers argue that SB 277 violates the fundamental rights to education, free exercise of religion, bodily integrity, and equal protection under the law.
45 years ago in a famous case named Serrano vs. Priest, the California court minced no words when it stated that the right to an education is “perhaps the most important function of state and local governments.” That is because an education is crucial for later financial success, it is important for building social relationships, it continues on for 13 years of a child’s life, and it impacts a child’s psychological and emotional well-being.
Education is so important that school attendance is required by law.
While some parents are able to make the sacrifices necessary to home school their children, home schooling is not possible for the overwhelming majority of families. This includes families that rely on two incomes to make ends meet, single parent households, those who do not speak English, and parents who don’t feel capable enough to teach their children themselves. This means that the impact SB 277 has on poorer families will be felt the greatest.
In addition, since the drafters of SB 277 were repeatedly warned, they knew that they would run into trouble with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for barring children with learning disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in place. They exempted these children from the law toward the end of the legislative process but they did not exempt children with disabilities who are not learning-disabled– although they are protected under 504 plans or custom health plans with their schools. It is these children who are not being protected equally as children with IEPs, which violates both federal and state laws that protect children with disabilities.
And lastly, implementing SB 277 has already grown into a monster ordeal. The Santa Barbara Health Department has taken it upon itself to start investigating medical exemptions without being given the authority to do so, and some schools are attempting to coerce children with IEPs to comply with the vaccination schedule or be barred from school.
The simple fact is that SB 277 was never needed since more than 95% of California school children were already fully vaccinated. If you believe in the theory of herd immunity, it is more than met at those levels.
If the temporary restraining order against the state is granted it means that children will be allowed to attend school in August without complying with SB 277 while the lawyers for both sides hash it out in court over the next year or two.
The suit will be won if the judge or jury agrees that the harm the kids will suffer under SB 277 can’t ever be fixed. If you lose out on your education, there is no fixing that. If you have to pull your kids out of school and go on welfare, there is no fixing that. If you have a vaccine injured child that you’re forced to bring up-to-date and injure them further, there is no fixing that.
More than it being appropriate to file this suit on the day the law goes into effect, more than the symbolism of it being filed one year after the law was signed, it is fitting that this lawsuit was filed on the weekend we Americans celebrate Independence Day. Consider this to be California parents’ own Declaration of Independence from oppression and medical tyranny. It has been a dark year for so many of you in the state of California and it’s about time you are able to hold fast onto a ray of hope.
If you’d like to donate to pushing the federal lawsuit forward with the best legal team imaginable, the link to do so is here.
Stay tuned. I plan on following this one very closely.