School board staff told to stop reporting parents’ refusal of vaccines

You don’t have to go to the cops anymore: School board staff are being instructed to stop filing police reports when a parent objects to mandatory vaccinations for students.

This is all part of a practice being carried out around the country by the largest school districts in Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Texas, and Oklahoma. The practice was met with some controversy in a post last month on the blog Grit and Grace . The move comes amidst heated debate over a bill in the Senate that would make it legal for parents to refuse vaccinating their children. The bill has currently failed to pass.

Officials with the Oklahoma, Texas, and Indiana school districts say they’re not bowing to parents’ wishes to close schools altogether.

“For schools in the system that have refused some kind of advocacy, our policy would still remain the same,” Jeanine Turley, chief counsel at the Indiana Board of Education, told the Indianapolis Star.

The Tennessee newspaper also reported that a bill requiring school-level medical and mental health evaluations before a student could be allowed to opt out of vaccination requirements would not be delayed by the law’s failure.

On the flip side, the Indiana opt-out plan has helped increase overall vaccination rates, The Star reported. During the 2011-2012 school year, fewer than 13 percent of Indiana students were still unvaccinated. The current study period for the state shows that percentage has decreased to nearly 16 percent.

Students who opt out of vaccinations have now been designated as “ill children,” which will limit the compensation teachers can receive for working with them.

Here’s how one teacher felt about the policy:

“Why can’t you tell me the truth?” she said of the opt-out policy. “Even if I disagree with what they’re saying, I have to stand there and listen. I can’t walk away from them.”

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