While California legislators have continued to introduce bills that obstruct parental rights, a school board in Los Angeles County is publicly pushing back. Early this month board members approved a resolution opposing two state bills that threaten the health of students and violated parental rights.
SB 866 would “authorize a minor 12 years of age or older to consent to vaccines that meet specified federal agency criteria” without “the consent of the parent or guardian of the minor.” This bill, authored by Senator Scott Wiener and Senator Dr. Richard Pan, would prevent parents from making medical decisions for their children.
SB 871 would require any “pupil of any public or private elementary or secondary school, childcare center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center” to be “fully immunized against COVID-19.” Recently, the author of the bill, Senator Dr. Richard Pan, announced he was putting the bill on hold after receiving a lot of pushback from parents and school officials. Pan wrote, “Until children’s access to COVID vaccination is greatly improved, I believe that a state-wide policy to require COVID vaccination in schools is not the immediate priority, although it is an appropriate safety policy for many school districts in communities with good vaccine access.” Although the bill is on hold, it could be brought back.
It looks like the resolution passed by the Bonita Unified School Board on April 6th had some effect.
“While the District respects the right of parents to choose the most suitable educational program for their children, we believe the passing of Senate Bill No. 871 would significantly impede on parents’ right to choose the medical treatment of their children,” reads the resolution. “… While the Board of Education of the Bonita Unified School District understands the goal of Senate Bill Nos. 871 and 866 is to stop the spread of COVID-19, we believe that these bills are ill-advised and in opposition to the educational and social-emotional goals of the state and the District. That we strongly urge the California Legislature and the Governor to vote against Senate Bill Nos. 871 and 866. The Bonita Unified School District Board of Education believes in the individual choice and parental rights in COVID-19 vaccination and other health decisions is crucial”.
While introducing the resolution, Superintendent Carl Coles expressed fear that parents were prepared to remove students from the district if these bills passed. “Certainly this district is not anti-vaccination,” Coles said. “But it is an educational institution and we do know, hearing from parents that there would be many families who would choose an alternative educational aspect if this vaccine [bill] were to be passed.”
BUSD parents were grateful for the decision. “Many parents are pleased with this move by the district as we have been fighting for parental choice in all aspects during the pandemic,” said Margarita Hetzel, mother of a BUSD student.
Another parent, Marilee Saurenman said she is “not opposed to childhood immunizations. There was never a doubt in my mind that my children would receive all of the immunizations currently required.” Although, “changing the current California health code to require children to get the Covid vaccine in order to attend school is an absolute overreach of our government.”
Saurenman, agrees “with Bonita USD Superintendent Coles that the primary focus and function of a school district is to educate our children and in the name of equity provide necessary support for that to occur. Denying an education due to the lack of a Covid vaccination is a complete contradiction of the equity promises.”
Saurenman and Hetzel are not the only two BUSD parents who feel this way. According to Saurenman, “There is a large number of families, including ours, who would leave the Bonita school district and seek alternative schooling options for their children. The negative impact of forced vaccination on our children and school district goes much further than just a loss of funding. I am very grateful that our Superintendent and Board are finally advocating for our children.”
Parents have been endlessly fighting for parental choice in schools for the past two years. It is nice to see a school board make it clear that they are supporting and standing with the parents by passing this resolution.