Vaccine mandate protestors

Vaccine mandate protestors gather outside of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse to support lawsuit seeking to stop LAUSD student vaccine requirement. 

Two nonprofits trying to stop the Los Angeles Unified School District’s student vaccine requirement drew a crowd of parents, their children and others in opposition to the requirement to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 8. 

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff listened to arguments from attorneys representing two nonprofits — Children’s Health Defense–California Chapter and Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK). 

Beckloff told the court he was leaning toward denying the preliminary injunction, which would put an emergency stop to LAUSD’s student vaccine requirement, but needed more time to consider. Beckloff did not release a timeline for his firm decision on the injunction. 

Nicole Pearson, an attorney representing the nonprofits, said she is hoping for Beckloff’s decision soon.

“(Beckloff) did not give us a deadline,” Pearson said. “It’s a double-edged sword because you don’t want him to rush, but I know that everyone is waiting to know what his decision is. We’re asking for an order stopping the district’s shot mandate until we can go to trial, which could take months.”

The petition filed by the nonprofits in October states they both represent and support thousands of children and families across California. Children’s Health Defense has approximately 540 members and Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids has 930 members who live within the district’s boundaries and have children enrolled in LAUSD schools. 

The attorneys argue that LAUSD did not follow California Health and Safety Codes and other legal and administrative procedures pursuant of their vaccine requirement. For example, LAUSD is not authorized to mandate vaccine requirements for in-person learning. California Department of Public Health, the responsible agency, did not give authority to the district. 

The district declined to comment.

Serving 600,000 students, the district requires children ages 12 and older to have the vaccine by January. All unvaccinated students will not be permitted on LAUSD campuses for in-person learning and will be referred to LAUSD’s independent study program. Students younger than 12 are encouraged by the school district to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, however, they are exempt. 

LAUSD said children with existing medical conditions, homelessness or those in the foster care system are exempt, among other LAUSD conditional exemptions. No exemptions are recognized for religious or personal beliefs for students. 

Christina Urrutia stood outside of the courthouse with her three children, all three of whom go to LAUSD schools and are unvaccinated. 

“The mandates are now being a problem for my kids at school,” Urrutia said.

“We believe in natural immunity. We all got COVID and we all still have the antibodies. The fact that they’re forcing a mandate on our kids is ridiculous.” 

Urrutia said she doesn’t trust the science behind the vaccines and, despite her beliefs, she said she worries about her children being unvaccinated will have other consequences.

“I have teachers and kids who are bullying other kids who are not vaccinated,” she said. “They’re separating us and they’re not keeping us together.”

Urrutia said her three children, who are in second, fourth and seventh grade, are now being homeschooled. 

“I can protect my kids from the school mandates by pulling them out, but what happens when we can’t take our kids to gymnastics or soccer and they can’t just play like regular kids,” she asked rhetorically.

“It’s segregating everybody. We’re here, hoping and praying, that people will start waking up and understanding that kids should be able to play with other kids… If you want to get the vaccine, that’s fine, but don’t mandate it, especially if there’s natural immunity going on,” she said.

James Fiala is a registered nurse and when asked if he trusts the COVID-19 vaccines, he said, “absolutely not.”

“I believe that we should have a right to choose (inoculation) and not have it forced on us,” he said. 

Fiala said that people, “should be extremely worried,” about the vaccines. After all, he works in the health care field and refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine himself. 

“People say that COVID is a terrible, scary thing but the virus has killed no more people than the flu,” he explained. 

Fiala added natural immunity might be more effective. 

“We think the law is on our side,” Pearson said. “The California Legislature is very clear about which department they want to be implementing these kinds of rules.

“It’s a matter of the judge listening and reading the law and applying it. I understand he’s under a tremendous amount of pressure, I know there are big forces in opposition to this like unions, organizations and government agencies that want to get kids vaccinated. We just have to hope that he sides with the law and with these children. We’re protecting these kids, that’s our goal today.”