News & Politics

Shameful: California High School Bars Unvaccinated Students From Attending Graduation Ceremonies

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Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) in suburban Los Angeles County plans to prevent 70 seniors from participating in person in their outdoor graduation ceremonies on Thursday evening. Yes, the pandemic insanity is still occurring in the once-golden state.

According to a media statement obtained by PJ Media, the group of 70 seniors being excluded from participation in graduation ceremonies includes unvaccinated students who were kicked off the GHCHS campus way back in January; vaccinated students who were kicked off the campus because GHCHS disputed their proof of vaccination; and, most heinous of all, eight special-needs students (with active IEPs) who were physically present on campus all school year under another GHCHS exemption from vaccination.

“1,100 graduates MINUS the 70, and multiple thousands of attendees” are expected to attend the GHCHS graduation ceremonies.

Over the past several weeks, GHCHS parents and several medical freedom advocacy groups have been working to reason with the school’s administration and governing board to no avail. Even the area’s sitting U.S. congressman, Mike Garcia (who was born in Granada Hills), has gotten involved, saying via a Facebook video that “we’re having a bit of a problem” at GHCHS. Among others, Garcia spoke to a student who told him he, along with many of his classmates, is being prevented from walking at his own graduation strictly “because he’s not vaccinated.”

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see the emotion in this kid’s eyes,” explained Garcia. “He was on the verge of tears and just sad that his administrators are not making this exception.” Garcia had a frustrating meeting with GHCHS’s executive director, Julia Howelman, who simply passed the buck to the administrative board. “She’s basically saying, ‘That’s the board’s policy,'” said Garcia. “They’re following it with fidelity and without any exceptions.”

Strangely, though, when Garcia and his staff walked into GHCHS they “weren’t asked for vaccine cards” and they “saw leaders and the administrator not wearing a mask in private quarters with people in the room with them.” Meanwhile, GHCHS students are still required to wear masks and get the vaccine in order to graduate. “It’s shameful,” Garcia said, “because literally every other school in California…is allowing kids to show up to their own graduation regardless of vaccination status.”

So what is the solution to GHCHS”s compassionless impasse? It’s simple, really. Take a COVID test. “Just allow them to show a negative COVID test and let them participate in a major milestone in their lives,” declared Garcia. “These are young adults who have been working for 18 years for this moment and we’re depriving them of that opportunity, that pride and that joy of their families seeing them walk across the stage to get that diploma because of vaccine status. Let’s do the right thing.”

While it remains to be seen if the board will do the right thing, in the meantime, advocacy groups such as GHC Parents United, Moms on the Ground, The Unity Project, Let Them Breathe, and other medical-freedom groups plan to protest Granada Hills Charter’s exclusion of the 70 unvaccinated high school seniors. As graduates and their families arrive and pose for pictures, protesting parents of excluded seniors will chant and hold signs proclaiming, “Unvaccinated kids’ graduation matters!”

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“Moms on the Ground is a grassroots movement to end mandates for California school children and we are also here to document the discrimination and bullying these children have endured all year, culminating in this final denial of their rights,” said Parisa Fishback, co-founder of Moms on the Ground, in a media statement. “What Granada Hills Charter High School has done to these graduating seniors is egregious and unconstitutional by both state and federal standards. We will continue to hold them accountable in every way possible.”

GHC Parents United attorney spokesperson Jennifer Kennedy stated, “What you are seeing here today is a failure of the leadership of this school, charged with the education of our children. Granada is not a medical provider and has no authority to demand the vaccination of children with a shot not yet added to the statewide schedule and already flagged for damage to children such as myocarditis. Not to mention a shot that is not mandated anywhere else in the state, county, city, or district.”

“The school had an opportunity to bring this community together. They had the opportunity to show these kids compassion. Instead, they showed them what goes wrong when someone holds too much power. They will remember this lesson forever.”

The school’s exclusion of the special-needs students with active IEPs, in particular, violates state and federal laws. “Eight of the 70 unvaccinated seniors barred from attending graduation are special-needs students,” organizers said. “This makes Granada Hills Charter’s exclusion of these students an express violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Act.”

“I’m begging the board members of Granada Hills Charter School,” Garcia said. He vows to “keep a bright light on this” issue and he’ll remain in contact with the board members since “the local administrators are powerless and just following the rules of the board.”  “Granada Hills Charter High School board members, do the right thing. Allow these kids to walk with the rest of their classmates regardless of vaccination status,” said Garcia.

The GHCHS Governing Board members can be contacted here.  And GHCHS graduation ceremonies will be live-streamed here on Thursday, June 2 at 7:00 p.m. PST.