The San Diego Unified School District is being sued to turn over some students' medical information regarding vaccinations.
The Medical Board of California is investigating three doctors to determine what criteria they used when granting medical vaccine exemptions for students.
The medical board wants the the district to give it information about some students' medical records, and has named the district in "a petition for order compelling compliance with subpoena."
To get into school, students need to be vaccinated unless they get a medical exemption.
"Typically it's a child undergoing chemotherapy, has an organ transplant, or is taking medications that suppress the immune system," said Susan Barndollar, the program manager for nursing and wellness for the district.
Despite protests, the state passed a law last year allowing public health officials to monitor and flag medical exemptions granted for questionable reasons. Now, according to the petitions, the state medical board is ordering the school district "to turn over copies of vaccine exemptions issued by three doctors, so the children exempted for medical reasons can be identified and the board can investigate the validity of the exemptions."
The three doctors are Marie Hong Sheih, John Edward Humiston and Timothey Rupert Dooley. NBC 7 reached out to all three, but did not hear back.
Summer, who does not want to give her last name, calls it a "witch hunt."
Summer, a parent, said the medical board is targeting the kind of doctors who she believes do their research.
"They're looking in the wrong direction. Really what we need to be doing is looking at the vaccine program, and really what we need to be doing is listening to those doing the research into vaccines," she said.
In a statement, the district wrote in part, "Before releasing any student data, we notified parents of plans to release the data and of their right to object. Several parents did object... One parent asked the court to issue a temporary protective order prohibiting the district from releasing their students' records to the medical review board."
"If parents say no, I don't want my medical information released, we should respect that," said Summer. "I certainly hope the courts will uphold our constitutional rights to privacy."
The San Diego Unified School District sent NBC 7 the following statement:
The San Diego Unified School District believes it is important for every child to be immunized against disease, unless there is a legitimate medical reason for them not to do so. This has long been our position and it was communicated most recently in an editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune by our staff pediatrician, Dr. Howard Taras, on July 5 of last year.
Last spring, San Diego Unified became aware of an unusually high number of medical exemptions to state immunization requirements generated by a small group of physicians. We reported this suspicious activity to the medical review board and asked for an investigation. As a result of that investigation, several media outlets also picked up on the suspicious activity by these physicians.
As part of its investigation into these cases, the medical review board requested the school district provide medical records of students who had received an exemption from the doctors in question. San Diego Unified takes privacy rights seriously, and before releasing any student data, we notified parents of plans to release the data and of their right to object to its release. Several parents did object to the release of their files. One parent asked the court to issue a temporary protective order prohibiting the district from releasing their students’ records to the medical review board.
We are now waiting for the court to rule on this request for a protective order. We are hopeful the court will agree with us that the release of these medical records is in the public interest and outweighs the privacy concerns of an individual family.
A court hearing on the matter is set for March 12, according to the district.