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Student sues San Diego Unified School District over vaccine mandate based on religious beliefs

The family's attorney said because certain COVID-19 vaccines are tested or developed with cell lines from abortions, the student doesn't want to take the vaccine.

SAN DIEGO — A family from Scripps Ranch High School is suing the San Diego Unified School District over its vaccine mandate based on religious beliefs. The attorney for the family said the student should have the choice to opt out of getting the vaccine like the employees.

On Nov. 29, all eligible students in the San Diego Unified School District will be required to at least have their first vaccine shot. But right now, students cannot ask for a religious exemption and they hope this lawsuit will change that for their client.

“The teachers at San Diego Unified actually have the opportunity to submit requests for religious exemptions but the students don’t. It doesn’t really make any constitutional sense or logical sense,” said Paul Jonna. 

Jonna is Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society, the law firm representing a student at Scripps Ranch High School who says her religious beliefs prevent her from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the National Institutes of Health, cell lines developed from past abortions are used in the testing or development of certain COVID-19 vaccines but mRNA vaccines are not manufactured with cell lines.

“This family is not anti-vaccine. They’ve taken other vaccines and it’s vaccines like this that have a connection to abortion that they’re opposed to," Jonna said.

San Diego Unified School District's mandate says if eligible students are not fully vaccinated by Dec. 20, they’ll have to enroll in independent study programs and will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. Jonna said this would be devastating for his client.

“She either has to take the vaccine and violate her faith or basically withdraw from sports. She’s a preeminent athlete, she’s in multiple sports, could lose the chance of a sports scholarship, then do remote distance learning, which are all unnecessary,” Jonna said. 

News 8 reached out to the San Diego Unified School District but they do not comment on pending lawsuits.

Jonna said they hope a decision in their favor will be made by Nov. 29 but they’re prepared to challenge the mandate based on religious beliefs all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

WATCH RELATED: SDUSD Board president addresses people who are unhappy with new vaccine mandate



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