Almost 500 Los Angeles Unified School District employees have been terminated due to the district’s COVID vaccine mandate.
As of Tuesday, 496 district workers have been fired for failing to comply with the shot requirement. District Superintendent Megan Reilly said that the district “cares deeply about all of our employees.” She added that firing non-compliant workers has been “extremely difficult but necessary” for the “safety of all in our school communities.”
The district’s policy might leave a path for fired employees to return to work if they decide to be vaccinated. Reilly said that the district wishes all terminated staff “the best in their future endeavors.”
The L.A. school district is second in size only to the New York City school district in the U.S. and has around 73,000 employees. The first deadline the district’s mandate policy called for was October 15, which was extended to November 15. The district claims that almost 99 percent of its employees have complied with the mandate requirements.
Many of the district’s workers are represented by the SEIU Local 99 union. A statement from the union says that the mandate only exacerbated existing staff shortages and said that the “punitive approach” of the district is shutting out “experienced and dedicated school workers.”
The union said that its negotiations with the district are ongoing, and it is demanding that reemployment rights be honored for fired workers who come into compliance. The union cites an agreed reduction-in-force system that appears to allow all workers up to 39 months to comply and then be reinstated.
Students in the district also face a vaccine mandate. The deadline for all eligible students to be fully vaccinated or have a valid exemption approved is January 10, 2022. It is believed that only about 85 percent of covered students have been vaccinated to date. The mandate calls for unvaccinated students to be restricted to online remote learning until they comply.