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Grand Prairie ISD Ignores State Immunizations Laws: Putting Staff, Students and Community at Risk
Concerns arise over potential public health risks as Grand Prairie ISD is accused of skirting immunization compliance
Before you delve into this article, there are several key points to understand:
This isn’t a debate on the merits of immunizations. Regardless of your stance on immunizations, religious or medical exemptions are available for those who oppose them. This has nothing to do with the Covid vaccine as that is not required under Texas state law.
Affordability isn’t the issue here. Nurses within Grand Prairie ISD ensure parents and guardians are aware of various avenues to access free immunizations, including clinics and mobile units visiting schools.
The crux of this matter is compliance with Texas State Law, which, alarmingly, some leaders within Grand Prairie ISD are reportedly advising campuses to disregard.
Grand Prairie Independent School District (GPISD) stands accused of deliberately flouting Texas state immunization laws, potentially jeopardizing the safety of students, staff, and the surrounding community. Reports suggest district administrators have advised schools to retain students who are non-compliant with mandatory immunization rules, stoking fears of health hazards.
Background on State Immunization Laws:
In Texas, all public school students must provide proof of immunization or valid exemptions due to medical, religious, or military grounds. Provisions do exist for homeless students, granting them a grace period to meet these requirements.
Texas law mandates that children attending school, including public, private, and higher education institutions, must receive certain vaccinations unless they have a valid exemption. Here’s a brief overview of the laws pertaining to school immunizations:
Students are required to receive vaccinations for diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox), and others, depending on their grade level and age.
Medical Exemption: A licensed physician can write a statement, to be submitted to the school, stating that the vaccine required is medically contraindicated or poses a significant risk to the health and well-being of the child.
Religious Exemption: Parents can apply for an exemption on the grounds of religious beliefs, submitting an affidavit to the school, stating that the immunization conflicts with the tenets and practices of a recognized religious organization to which the student belongs.
Reasons of Conscience: Texas allows exemptions for reasons of conscience, including a philosophical belief against an immunization. To obtain this exemption, parents must submit an official Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) affidavit form to the school.
Texas allows provisional enrollment of students transferring from one Texas school to another, allowing them to attend school while their immunization records are being transferred.
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act:
Students classified as homeless under this act are given a 30-day compliance period to provide their immunization documentation.
Non-compliance with the required immunization schedule can lead to exclusion from school, and schools are mandated to enforce the exclusion unless the student has a valid exemption or is in provisional status.
Allegations Against Grand Prairie ISD:
Campus principals received emails on September 8, 2023 instructing them to ignore state immunization laws and not unenroll students who fail to comply. This purported breach of regulations raises critical concerns about potential repercussions for public health, legal compliance, and ethical conduct within district schools.
PEIMS clerks received a similar email on September 7, 2023
Failure to strictly enforce immunization laws can escalate the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, posing serious health risks. Non-compliance may expose students, staff, and the general public to diseases, undermining community health and well-being. Confidential sources within Grand Prairie ISD tell us that there were more than 2,000 students without the required immunizations at the start of the school year. That number has dropped to roughly 1,000. The majority of these students have recently
Nurses across the Grand Prairie ISD school district have filed a safe harbor, voicing their serious concerns over the potential breach of immunization laws. By invoking safe harbor, these healthcare professionals are seeking to safeguard students, staff, and the broader community from the possible repercussions of non-compliance with state-mandated immunization requirements. This act also underlines the profound ethical and professional responsibilities nurses bear in ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for all.
Requests for Comment:
Despite multiple attempts, Grand Prairie News has yet to receive any official response or clarification from Grand Prairie ISD, the Texas Education Agency, or the Texas Department of State Health Services. The silence from these bodies has intensified concerns and left critical questions unanswered.
The allegations against Grand Prairie ISD necessitate an immediate and thorough inquiry by the state and local authorities. The community deserves clear information and reassurance that safeguarding the health and safety of everyone in the district is the top priority.
Grand Prairie News is committed to closely monitoring this unfolding situation, promising to deliver updates as new details surface. We submitted an open records request to Grand Prairie ISD on September 14, 2023 and GPISD responded on September 28th, 2023 with the following.
”I wanted to update you on the status of your request below. We are still in the process of gathering responsive information. We will respond accordingly as soon as we have that information.”
Public Information Officer
Grand Prairie ISD
Stay tuned for more developments on this critical public health concern affecting our schools and community. If we do hear back from Grand Prairie ISD we will keep you informed.
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