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School says we cannot enroll for Kindergarden without vaccinations!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Looking for some advice. 


We live on an indian reservation where there is a lot of problems with bullying and no social activities for homeschooling. There are no safe places to play or interact with other kids outside of school here and my daughter is SUPER social. I see myself as a homeschooling parent but found keeping her home even as a toddler challenging as she was always asking to have other kids over. Even on days off from school she really wants to play with other kids and on days we have other kids over is usually upset when they have to leave. In this environment, it just seems like school is the only way to try to keep up with her passion for being around other kids. 


Most of the schools here are lacking in safety. So after much research we settled on the local, PRIVATE catholic school. Everything seemed to be in order but today the principal called me and said that it is against their policy to allow kids to enroll in school unless they are vaccinated. 


There is no way I can/will vaccinate her just to get her into school. 


I thought that they cannot discriminate against us for this especially given we stated it was for religious/spiritual reasons. She has been enrolled in 3 other places 2 preschools and a public childcare (the point being they all have federal funding)... none of them have ever had a problem with this. 


Does anyone have any experience with this or suggestions for how to proceed?


My daughter was really excited about going to this school and is really disappointed that she might not get to go. 



post #2 of 15
I believe private schools do not have to abide by exemption laws unless they take any money from the state. They are free to set their own policies.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

They said its because they participate in the state free lunch program... but that is a state program and our state allows religious exemptions... 

post #4 of 15
It sounds like they are misinformed. They think they must require vaccines because they accept state money when in fact they must abide by the state laws, including exemptions, if they do so.
post #5 of 15

I would ask them to check into any "loopholes", because she might just assume it's required.  


I know some states (Like Washington) require a doctor's signature.  You have to listen to their speech, then make an informed decision, and then the doctor signs it.  

post #6 of 15
It is my understanding that, as PPs have said, they have to honor exemptions if they take government funds.

I'd suggest cross posting this in the vaccination forums. And good luck!!
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

I guess I am still figuring out different forums and how to post most effectively... where is the vaccine forum? Searched "vaccine" and got a long list of threads that included that word. 

post #8 of 15
Try this link

It's the subforum for parents who are chosing not to vaccinate.
post #9 of 15

What state are you in?

post #10 of 15

Yes, my thought would be as a completely private, Catholic school, they could set requirements based on their own religious tenets.  So in that case, they might not honor a religious exemption.  But if they accept state funds and have to abide by state laws, then maybe they just aren't aware that state law allows for a religious exemption, even in public schools.  I would print out that part of your state's statutes and take it to them.

post #11 of 15

A private school can do pretty much what they want and are free to discriminate on the basis of pretty much anything. Most discrimination is legal under federal and state law. Some types of discrimination is not but to my knowledge refusual to vaccinate is not one of them.


And since it is not the position of the Catholic church that vaccinations are "bad" then I don't really think that a Catholic school is interested in a religous waiver.


Even if the Catholic school is taking funding from the federal goverment (unlikely) it is probably funneled through the BIA. BIA  and/or tribal funding is generally not held to federal law.

post #12 of 15
Daycare and private school are considered private businesses and don't have to offer exemptions in my state. I have heard the line about federal funding meaning they can't turn away unvaccinated children but have never seen a law referenced and an internet search with different phrases yielded no results so I am not sure where that idea comes from. USDA meal funding does come with an antidiscrimination requirement that can be found on their website but excluding unvaccinated children from the program isn't listed as discrimination.

Are there other private schools she could go to? If not I suggest volunteering in the school frequently and sending her to the public one or homeschooling even if she isn't able to be as social. Maybe you can talk a school into letting her play at recess if you stay in sight.
post #13 of 15
By refusing to honor a religious exemption, they are discriminating based on religion. That is why those exemptions exist.
post #14 of 15
It may be hard to claim discrimination on religious grounds if the religion doesn't have a stance against vaccinations. You could try filing a claim of discrimination with USDA because of religion. I think the complaint would only be viewed as valid if she was enrolled then denied food but they may extend to enrollment in the first place. It would be interesting to find out.
post #15 of 15
The USDA can't discriminate on behalf of food related religious reasons--- to get state funding schools have to abide by offering food alternatives to religious reasons ( no pork, vegetarian meals, milk & meat offered separate, no beef, etc). A child that qualifies for reduced or free lunch must be offered one that abides by their religious beliefs.

Our schools offer a vegan meal every day in addition to a meat based meal.

As a private school , they may be able to iscrinate based on vaccinations if they do not get academic funds from the state- a public school (in a state that allows for exemptions )can not. Every state has some varying qualifying factors for exemptions- ask for a copy of vaccine waivers and/ contact your state department of education.
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