Community college students and staff file lawsuit challenging district vaccine requirements

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By Collin Breaux

The rejection of COVID-19 vaccines for school campuses and workplaces continues and, this time, is going to court.

Employees and students at community colleges in San Diego County and Southern Orange County have sued to end college districts’ requirement to be vaccinated to attend classes and work on campus .

The 416-page complaint, filed in federal court on April 1, alleges that vaccination requirements set by the South Orange County, Grossmont-Cuyamaca and San Diego community college districts are unconstitutional and discriminatory against those who do not want to get vaccinated. .

Michele Clock, spokesperson for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, said Monday (April 11) that the district was unable to comment on ongoing litigation.

At the time of this publication, representatives from the other two districts had not responded to requests for comment.

Jess Perez, an administrative assistant for Saddleback College’s athletics program, is one of the seven plaintiffs. Perez, who has worked at Saddleback College for more than 20 years, said he refused to get vaccinated because of his core beliefs as a born-again Christian.

He has not received any vaccine of any kind in the past 20 years, including the flu shot.

“The word of God says we should take care of our body because we believe it resides in our body,” Perez said in a Thursday, April 7, phone interview. “I don’t want to defile the temple in which God lives. He created all individuals to be free.

The South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees voted last year to require employee and student vaccinations beginning in January. However, exemptions were allowed, which Perez requested and received.

He regularly has to get tested twice a week for COVID-19, which he says is discriminatory since vaccinated people don’t have to undergo regular testing.

“I absolutely hate it when people abuse authority and become a bully with that authority,” Perez said.

Perez further addressed his opposition to the vaccine requirements during a press conference held by the California Constitutional Rights Foundation regarding the lawsuit Monday morning. The COVID-19 vaccine was not a condition of his job when he was hired, he said Monday.

“I did my job faithfully,” Perez said at the press conference.

The other plaintiffs come from the districts of Grossmont-Cuyamaca and San Diego Community College.

“After 18 years of working for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, I was forced to use my vacation pay and then go on unpaid leave because I refuse to be vaccinated due to my beliefs. sincere religious,” plaintiff Patricia Sparks said in a statement. Release.

“I am facing financial hardship and stress, but worse still, the district has thrown away my years of dedication and love for Grossmont College for nothing more than a refusal to be injected with a drug that won’t stop. infection, nor transmission,” she continued in the statement.

Medical experts have generally said the vaccine is safe, helps prevent widespread transmission of COVID-19, and has undergone rigorous and careful development.

In addition to seeking an end to vaccine and testing requirements, the lawsuit also seeks an end to masking warrants, according to a legal brief.

The employees and students filing the complaint argue that their university districts conducted pandemic policies “without any reasonable belief that the complainants had symptoms, had contracted COVID-19 or had been in close contact with someone known to be infected. by COVID-19,” the court filing says.

Perez said getting vaccinated should be a personal matter and not forced on people by employers or the government.

“I really believe it’s everyone’s individual choice whether or not to be vaccinated,” Perez said.

A hearing date has not yet been set for the trial.

Opposition to vaccination requirements and pandemic protocols has arisen frequently in Southern Orange County and elsewhere throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including with respect to school campuses and students.

Under a California bill recently proposed by State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), the COVID-19 vaccine could be added to the list of shots students must have for school. That bill, however, has not moved forward since being referred to the state Senate health and education committees in February.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other southern Orange County news as editor of The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com.

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