Nearly 2,000 LAUSD Staff Members Got COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions
The Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the largest employers in the county, issued a vaccine mandate last August, requiring all workers to get vaccinated or face being fired. The move came after Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated vaccines or weekly testing for all staff at California's public schools.
Employees with religious objections or medical conditions preventing them from getting the shot could, the district said, “engage in an interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation exists." A public records request filed by LAist has revealed that more than 3,200 staff members made that request.
To date, at least 1,963 LAUSD employees have been exempted, with principals, vice principals, teachers and school police making up about half of that pool. The remaining half is made up of staff.
Back in August, when the delta variant was top of mind, the teachers’ union voted overwhelmingly in favor of the mandate. UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz celebrated the decision.
“Because of the protocols that UTLA educators and LAUSD families fought for and won,” she said in a statement, “LA Unified has among the strictest COVID safety protocols in the country.”
The public records request also revealed that 845 teachers have received vaccine exemptions, a figure that represents just over 3% of K-12 educators in the district.
Forty school police officers also applied for exemptions. Twenty of them are now suing the district, alleging they were either wrongfully fired or coerced into taking the vaccine.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was brought Monday, as the omicron variant rips through the county. The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, and those who were fired also want to be reinstated to their previous positions.
According to the suit, some plaintiffs remain on medical leave but have been told that they will be terminated if they return unvaccinated.
Jill Replogle contributed to this report.