SB 277 (Pan & Allen) – the so-called “vaccination bill” – is progressing steadily toward the legislative finishing line. An Assembly floor debate and vote could occur as early as tomorrow (June 18). Should the controversial measure seeking the elimination of the personal beliefs exemption (PBE) from state mandated immunizations make its way out of the Assembly, it will return to the Senate for a vote on concurrence in amendments before heading to Governor Jerry Brown.
The bill’s most recent set of amendments clarify the enrollment status of pupils currently in possession of a PBE. Among the new provisions established by the amendments is the following:
A pupil who, prior to January 1, 2016, submitted a letter or affidavit on file at a private or public elementary or secondary school, child day care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center stating beliefs opposed to immunization shall be allowed enrollment to any private or public elementary or secondary school, child day care center, day nursery, nursery school, family day care home, or development center within the state until the pupil enrolls in the next grade span.
For purposes of interpreting the bill’s provisions, grade spans are defined as follows:
- Birth to preschool
- Kindergarten and grades 1 to 6, inclusive, including transitional kindergarten
- Grades 7 to 12, inclusive
The amendments further establish that as of July 1, 2016 public and private schools (not including home schools) may not unconditionally admit for the first time, or admit or advance to 7th grade, any pupil who has not met the immunization requirements for his/her age (with the exception of those in possession of a valid medical exemption).
CAPSO requested amendments of this nature to provide school administrators with something resembling a phase-in period in the event that SB 277 should become law. Without such a ‘buffer’ period, existing regulations would have placed an additional administrative burden upon schools, and would almost certainly have resulted in pupil exclusions.
An additional amendment specifies that SB 277’s provisions do not prohibit a pupil who qualifies for an individualized education program (IEP) from accessing any special education and related services required by his/her IEP.