Texas AG Paxton’s Opinion, statutory language suggest schools may exclude students who refuse China Virus shots, but not other immunizations

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Austin and Conroe, March 10 – Under the Texas Education Code and in accordance with an Opinion, which Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued late last week, public school districts may not exclude children who have not received immunizations, but they may exclude children who have not received the China Virus immunization, which Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson have manufactured. Paxton issued his Opinion KP-0359 on Friday, March 5, 2021, which made the distinction between regular immunizations and the China Virus shots during the so-called “pandemic.”

Section 38.001(a) of the Texas Education Code requires every public school student to receive an immunization against diphtheria, rubeola, rubella, mumps, tetanus, and polio. Section 38.001(f), however, provides “(f) A person who has not received the immunizations required by this section for reasons of conscience, including because of the person’s religious beliefs, may be excluded from school in times of emergency or epidemic declared by the commissioner of public health.”

As a result of that strange language, East Texas Republican State Representative James White asked “whether Texas law allows a school district, during an epidemic, to exclude students who decline vaccinations for reasons of conscience even when such vaccinations do not relate to the epidemic.”

The Attorney General responded that “this exception does not permit exclusion of students who lack vaccinations unrelated to an existing ‘epidemic’ contemplated by subsection 38.001(f).” In other words, school districts may exclude students who lack vaccinations only related to an existing epidemic.

Clearly, Texas Education Code Section 38.001 would permit school districts to exclude students who lack the China Virus immunization. The statutory language, as well as General Paxton’s opinion, does not make any distinction between a vaccination and an immunization.

Many public health experts do not consider the Pfizer and Moderna shots to be “vaccines,” although they are immunizations, because those shots do not inject a live dose of COVID-19 into the patient.

Paxton further noted in his Opinion, “Further, to the extent a school was to exclude a student who had declined required immunizations unrelated to an existing epidemic due to a sincere religious belief, a court could find this to be a substantial burden on the student’s religious freedom and potentially a violation of the U.S. and Texas constitutions. Accordingly, subsection 110.003(a) of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code requires that only the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling government interest may be utilized in placing such a substantial burden. If less restrictive means exist to accomplish that objective, a court could find that a specific student’s exclusion in such circumstances from school under Education Code subsection 38.001(f) violates the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

 

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