A school in New York is being forced to defend its decision not to grant admission to an unvaccinated child, even amid an ongoing measles outbreak.
You would think that a school shouldn’t have to go to court to prevent medical threats from harming students, but that’s exactly what’s happening in a case brought against Yeshiva Oholei Torah, a pro-vaccine Orthodox Jewish school, that refused to admit a four-year-old child because he didn’t have his immunizations.
Parents Shalom and Esther Laine submitted a request for a “religious exemption,” and the school denied it, according to attorney Joey Aron, founder of Aron Law PLLC.
That law requires all children entering school to be vaccinated against a host of potentially serious contagious diseases, but also contains a provision allowing parents to submit a request for an exemption based upon “genuine and sincere religious beliefs” opposing vaccination. Oholei Torah refused to honor the parents’ exemption request, maintaining that its policy is to not accept students who have not been vaccinated.
The plaintiffs asked the court to grant a preliminary injunction — an extraordinary form of judicial relief — requiring the school to admit their child pending the outcome of the case, which could, of course, take months (if not longer) to reach a final adjudication. In deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction, among other things, the court must balance the equities on both sides and the risk of “irreparable harm” if the injunction is not granted. Presumably considering the grave risk to the entire student body and school staff were the unimmunized child to be admitted to school, versus that of the child being kept home or having to attend an alternative institution, the court wisely denied the plaintiffs’ request.
The court made the right decision by rejecting the request for a preliminary injunction, but the case definitely isn’t over. A judge still has to determine whether public and private schools have the right to deny admission to unvaccinated kids.
This case is particularly interesting because the parents and the school share the same religious beliefs, yet they are on opposite sides of a “religious freedom” debate. Aron argues that that mandating the religious school to accept unvaccinated kids would “interfere with the school’s free exercise of religion and consequentially their responsibility to protect other students.” So their religious conscience trumps the parents’ beliefs.
The difference is that one side has science on their side. The other doesn’t.
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