Fresno Schools Defy Vaccination Law, But Will Sequester Kids

Officials of the Fresno Unified School District have decided to delay full implementation of California’s 2010 Vaccination law by at least a week, the Fresno Bee reports. The law, which requires all students between the seventh- and twelfth-grade to get immunized against whooping cough, was originally supposed to go into effect in the beginning of this school year. Due to the low rate of vaccinations over the summer, the state allowed a 30-day extension which means that for districts with the earlier academic year start time, the law went into effect only last week.

Fresno’s extension expired this Wednesday, but they’ve indicated that they will not be pulling unvaccinated kids out of class either on Thursday or Friday. Instead, they will attempt to contact the parents and notify them of the new requirement. Furthermore, Fresno schools will have nurses on site to administer shots.

However, starting Monday, Fresno Unified will follow the lead of the San Fransisco Unified School district, and will start pulling kids out of class and segregating them in gyms and cafeterias. Students who are still unvaccinated by October 4th will not be allowed on school property at all.

Currently, 82% of Fresno students are in compliance, which means 5200 students are still at risk of being barred from classes. According to the Bee, the parents must do one of three things in order for their child to continue attending classes:

• Provide proof of immunization
• Sign a permission slip allowing Fresno Unified to administer the free vaccine
• Sign a waiver

Across California, districts are using different methods to deal with kids who run afoul of the law. Clovis Unified and Madeira Unified both indicated that they’ll be taking a harder line than Fresno and San Fransisco and plan to forbid kids without a shot or a waiver from attending school at all.

Although the law doesn’t give a state any remedy against schools who break the law, the spokeswoman for the California Department of Education said that the non-compliant districts may be punished financially.

[S]he added that the state may not provide funding for students who are sequestered and put into independent study programs, such as Fresno Unified has planned. If the state doesn’t pay, Fresno Unified could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars next week. Valley schools are reimbursed about $30-$35 a day on average by the state for each student who attends class.

Although Fresno Unified is saying that students who must spend the day in the cafeteria are in “modified independent study program,” Jung dismissed the idea that kids who get pulled out of class qualify for independent study. The implication is that if Fresno is hoping for reimbursement from the state, it best not hold its breath.

“Any decisions about [reimbursement] is determined by the state,” she said. “Our focus remains in keeping students in school focused on learning as long as possible as we continue to work on 100% compliance on this new state law.”