A new law in Albany, New York, requiring all school children, public and private, to be vaccinated by July in order to continue their education is causing confusion and panic. Parents in the Deer Park area have received a letter from Assistant Superintendent James Cummings explaining that “In the event that you do not follow this mandate we will be reaching out to Child Protective Services to alert them of your non-compliance.”
PJ Media reached out to Cummings and confirmed that this is the letter he sent out on June 18. Cummings responded by email and contradicted his letter, saying, “The district will not be contacting CPS in these cases, but must uphold the new mandate of requiring vaccines to enroll or remain enrolled in the school.” He chose not to explain why this letter says the opposite but did say a new one is going out today or tomorrow. Cummings declined to give PJ Media a copy of the new letter or expand on why the threat was included in the original.
Parents across New York who do not vaccinate for religious reasons and were using the religious exemption to place children in schools are receiving letters daily from educational institutions informing them they must comply or get out. Some parents have also received letters from summer camps disinviting their children, though the bill does not specify summer camps as included in the mandates, although the Department of Health issued a letter to summer camps demanding that they comply with the bill that targets schools. Further, parents with disabled children are being told their students will lose their IEP services if they homeschool. One parent reported on social media, “Our school district, Hilton, told me over the phone that anyone who isn’t up-to-date on vaccinations, or doesn’t comply with the CDC catch up schedule (even if their doctor recommends a different schedule), will not receive IEP services by law, not even homeschoolers.” This appears to contradict state law regarding children with disabilities.
This memorandum is to inform you that, pursuant to Chapter 217 of the Laws of 2008, which was signed by the Governor on July 7, 2008, students with disabilities who are in home instruction programs pursuant to section 100.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education are eligible to receive special education services from their school district. The new law resulted from proposed legislation advanced by the State Education Department.
Suffolk County Child protection told PJ Media that while they haven’t investigated anyone for not vaccinating their children, it’s not off the table. The protection worker said, “Albany has a low standard for child abuse. We have to investigate whatever they tell us.”
Calls to Albany Child Protective Services went unanswered.
The recent law has caused an incredible amount of confusion, fear, and division. Children’s Health Defense is preparing lawsuits that will be filed soon to challenge the law.
In particular, the new law violates the rights of special needs children with Individualized Educational Plans and 504 Plans, who have well-recognized federal rights to a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
Children’s Health Defense (CHD) has pulled together a team of lawyers who, along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., will challenge the repeal on all of the grounds above. We are working with a team of leading New York lawyers to prepare and file lawsuits as soon as possible. Our aim is to prevent the law from going fully into effect on July 14.
In the meantime, parents caught in the aftermath of Albany’s last session are left adrift without guidance or answers to what comes next for them and their children.