From: The Republic
A Pickens High School senior kept out of the classroom over her refusal to get mandatory immunizations may get a chance to argue her case in court later this week.
Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Friday in Elkins. Olivia Hudok and father Phil, a retired teacher, sued the county school board and Superintendent James Phares earlier this month, demanding they grant a religious exemption allowing her in school. In the meantime, Olivia is being home-schooled by her dad.
Phares told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the district has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing the state Department of Health and Human Resources should have been a defendant, and lawsuits against state agencies must be filed in Kanawha County. The state attorney general’s office has filed two motions as well, district attorney Greg Bailey said. One seeks to intervene in the case, while the other asks the judge to dismiss because it was filed in the wrong county.
The InterMountain of Elkins which first reported the complaint, says Olivia refused to get Tdap and MCV4 boosters for religious reasons and because of concerns about toxic ingredients. The immunizations are designed to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and meningitis.
Under a new state mandate, all seventh- through 12th-graders must have been vaccinated by Sept. 4.
Olivia Hudok was warned Sept. 7 and Sept. 10 that she would be denied admission to the tiny school, where she is one of only three seniors, if she failed to get proof of immunization. The complaint her father filed says she’ll “suffer irreparable harm by being denied her fundamental right to an education” and requests an injunction barring the school district from enforcing its plan. West Virginia and Mississippi, it notes, are the only states that currently don’t recognize religious exemptions regarding vaccinations.
A county health department letter to the Hudoks calls immunization “a public health issue, not a personal freedom issue.”
Does freedom from religion trump other childrens right to be safe from communicable diseases? We would tend to think now but vaccination, and vaccination law, remain hot button topics.