Scripps Ranch

Student-Athlete Sues San Diego Unified Over COVID-Vaccine Mandate

Children attending San Diego Unified schools who are over 16 years old have to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20 or attend school via distance learning

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A Scripps Ranch High School student athlete and her parents are suing the San Diego Unified School District over the COVID-vaccine mandate, claiming gthat the student athlete will either have to abandon her faith or abandon sports.

The lawsuit was expected, as time is running out for eligible students. Children over 16 years old have to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20 or attend school via distance learning. The issue is: If some students can opt out, why can't others?

At the heart of the lawsuit is "a pre-eminent" athlete at Scripps Ranch who wants to draw the attention of college athletics programs this winter, believing she can earn a scholarship. According to the distict's policy, however, the 16-year-old junior would have to be vaccinated to play, and getting vaccinated goes against her religious beliefs.

"The problem here is that no religois exemption at all is recognized by the San Diego Unified Distric's policy," said legal analyst Dan Eaton.

The lawsuit alleges religious discrimination as a result of the district's vaccine mandate.

"Jill Doe's faith prevents her from taking any of the currently availavle COVID-19 vaccinations due to their taint with aborted fetal cells," the suit states, in part, adding elsewhere, "She is firmly pro-life and accepts her faith's teaching that she cannot partipcate in the horror of abortion in any way."

The lawsuit argues that the district has exemptions for others, including foster youth, homeless children, migrant and military families or those in special education "need not get COVID-19 vaccinations at this time," states the suit

"What she is saying is that San Diego Unified School District's exemption allows for exemptions on a case-by-case basis for migrant youth, for foster youth and homeless youth,"
Eaton said. "And what she's saying is, if you're going to do that, you have to allow people with bona fide religous exemptions to assert that right to be excepted also."

Eaton said that if she wins this lawsuit, she gets the right to apply for an exemption, not necessarily the right to have the religous exemption accepted by the district. At issue is the fact that other vaccines were developed using fetal cells, like polio and chicken pox and rubella.

"What some people are saying is that, 'Look, the same kind of materials were used in vaccines you have gotten in the past. You can't say you have a bona fide religous objection on the same basis to the COVID-19 vaccine'," Eaton said.

Eaton said that if she wins the lawsuit and forces the district to allow religous exemptions, then the school district for some reson turns the Scripps Ranch High student's request down, there would be a follow-up lawsuit. you would see lawsuit part two.

Reached for comment, a district official said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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