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Lawsuit aims to pre-empt CCSD COVID-19 vaccine mandate, end testing

A lawsuit filed this week in federal court seeks to declare Clark County School District mandates for employee COVID-19 vaccination and testing unconstitutional.

In the case of the vaccination mandate, which was approved by the School Board in September, the complaint seeks to prevent it from being enforced, though the school district has not yet taken any action to do so. It also seeks to end the weekly testing requirement the district imposed on unvaccinated employees in August.

The plaintiffs — 18 school district teachers — are suing the district and Superintendent Jesus Jara.

The case was filed Monday in U.S. District Court by attorneys Joey Gilbert — a Republican candidate for governor who has filed other lawsuits fighting COVID-19-related mandates — and Roger O’Donnell, Adam Fulton, Christina Gilbertson and Logan Willson.

The attorneys didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday. The school district doesn’t comment on pending litigation, a district spokesman said.

A ‘life altering decision’

Plaintiffs are faced with a “life altering decision” of either losing their school district job or having COVID-19 vaccination or testing imposed on them “that they fundamentally oppose and have the constitutional right to reject,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges the plaintiffs haven’t been compensated for their time spent undergoing weekly testing required for employees who haven’t uploaded their vaccination records into an online system.

The school district reached an agreement in September with the Education Support Employees Association union to pay employees who are required to undergo testing for their time. That only applies, though, to support staff jobs.

In early September, the Clark County School Board voted 5-1 to approve an employee vaccination mandate, which allows for medical and religious exemptions. It also called for negotiating with employee unions.

Trustee Danielle Ford voted no, and Trustee Katie Williams wasn’t present.

Hundreds of people attended the meeting, and the board heard more than five hours of public comments — overwhelmingly opposing a mandate — before reaching its decision.

In more than three months since the vote, the school district hasn’t announced any timeline for when employees must be vaccinated or provided any details about implementing the requirement.

The Clark County Association of School Administrators & Professional-Technical Employees and the support employees union both said they have not yet heard from the school district about scheduling talks on the mandate.

Jeff Horn, executive director of the administrators union, said via email that the union responded to a recent inquiry from the district’s head negotiator who was gathering information on the association’s stance.

Joanna Miller, a spokeswoman for the Clark County Education Association teachers union, said the district reached out to start talks and the union responded to say it’s ready to sit down with district officials. But no date has been set, and there hasn’t been further action, she said.

Unproven assertions

The lawsuit makes several unproven assertions about COVID-19 and the vaccines, including arguing that some plaintiffs have “already recovered swiftly from COVID-19” and thus “continue to have robust natural immunity that is superior to the vaccine-induced immunological response.”

Recent studies have shown that natural immunity — obtained by being infected and recovering — varies considerably among individuals and that vaccination enhances protection against reinfection. It also may ward off COVID-19 variants better than a natural immune response, other studies suggest.

The lawsuit also said that the COVID-19 vaccines are “classified as genetic medical intervention” and are “inadequately tested, experimental and dangerous biological agents.”

Public health experts have said repeatedly that the vaccines underwent rigorous testing and have proved remarkably safe since they became available in the U.S. beginning in late 2020.

Several of the plaintiffs have submitted medical or religious exemptions to the school district’s COVID-19 testing mandate for unvaccinated employees, but none has been granted, according to the complaint.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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