Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong ordered Thursday that the Randolph County School System must still provide homebound educational services to a Pickens High School senior who has been barred from attending classes at her school.
The student, Olivia Hudok, was told by officials in September that she is not to return to school because of her refusal to receive mandatory immunizations. She and her father, Phil Hudok, filed a complaint against the Randolph County Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. James Phares Sept. 11. They asked for a religious exemption allowing her to return to school.
Wilfong said there were two issues to consider in the case: the vaccination issue and the obligation of counties to provide education. She said her ruling was that the case would continue, and the Randolph County BOE would continue providing homebound learning for Olivia Hudok until the West Virginia Supreme Court gives further direction.
West Virginia has strict rules on immunizations, not allowing for a religious exemption. According to this piece in the Chronicle, parents have been trying to change that. Not a welcome move as whooping cough and measles are on the rise across the U.S., both of which are preventable by vaccinations.
The problem lies in the school’s obligation to it’s entire student body (prevent communicable disease) and the right of an individual to chose no vaccinations. The judge has ruled that they must make accommodations for this vaccine exemption.
Earlier this year, the nonprofit group We The Parents asked Kaufman to grant a preliminary injunction that would allow three students in Randolph, Ohio, and Mercer counties to attend public school without the state-mandated inoculations against mumps, tetanus, hepatitis and other contagious diseases.
Judges in those counties ordered schools to pay for homebound instruction for the students until the case against DHHR officials in Kanawha County played out.We the People is a state-based group made up of parents who, for religious, moral or health reasons, decide not to vaccinate their children, according to the group’s website.