Judge permits unvaccinated child to attend school

By Justin Anderson | May 18, 2009

Goodwin CHARLESTON – A federal judge has ordered that an unvaccinated kindergartner can attend school in Mingo County for the remainder of the school year while the child's mother's lawsuit against the school system plays out.

Goodwin

CHARLESTON – A federal judge has ordered that an unvaccinated kindergartner can attend school in Mingo County for the remainder of the school year while the child's mother's lawsuit against the school system plays out.

However, the school system now wants the order vacated and its legal costs paid because the mother of the child has made no attempt to enroll the child in school.

A ruling on the school system's motion is pending.

Jennifer Workman had sued in U.S. District Court on April 1, alleging the school system is violating her constitutional rights by not permitting her 6-year-old daughter to attend school because she's not been vaccinated.

Workman says her religious beliefs do not allow her to potentially expose the little girl to potentially be harmed by vaccinations. Workman claims another of her daughters has health problems she believes are rooted in vaccinations.

Workman also claims that a physician has given the little girl a medical exemption from being vaccinated, which Workman says is allowable under state law.

Federal Judge Joseph R. Goodwin issued a temporary restraining order against the Mingo school system on April 24, which permitted the little girl to attend school. That order was set to expire on May 4.

Goodwin, in issuing the order, said the plaintiff proved that the girl was being harmed by being denied the benefits of a public education.

Goodwin subsequently entered another order on April 29, extending the order to June 5, the last day of school.

Mingo school officials found that the girl, identified only as M.W., already will have difficulties related to entering kindergarten this late in the school year, according to Goodwin's order.

"Mingo County Schools believes that M.W.'s difficulties in entering kindergarten at this late date will be compounded if M.W. attends school while knowing that she is in jeopardy of having to discontinue her attendance due to the expiration of the order," Goodwin wrote. "Mingo County Schools also believes that if M.W. is suddenly removed from school upon expiration of the (order), she will be further distanced from her classmates."

Goodwin noted that the extension is contingent on the school system retaining its ability to remove M.W. from school should a disease preventable by vaccine erupt at her school. The plaintiffs apparently did not object to this.

A trial has been set for July 6.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:09-cv-00325

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