A Michigan requestor recently asked the Network for resources and court opinions pertaining to the exclusion of unvaccinated children from school during a disease outbreak. The Network found two cases and one state Attorney General opinion relevant to the issue:
Phillips vs. City of New York (2015) – In this US Court of Appeals case (2nd Circuit), it was found that students who receive religious exemptions from the vaccination law may be kept out of school during disease outbreaks.
Hill vs. Lansing Bd of Education (1923) – In this Michigan Supreme Court Case, it was found that the Board of Education must comply with a local health board regulation excluding unvaccinated children from school during a smallpox outbreak.
Illinois Attorney General Opinion 83-017 - This opinion deals with whether the Department of Public Health has authority to promulgate a rule which requires non-immunized school children whose parents or legal guardians object to measles immunization on religious grounds to be excluded from school attendance for a 21-day period following an outbreak of measles in the school; and whether such a rule is an unconstitutional restriction on the free exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the United States Constitution. The opinion found that the Department had the requisite authority and that the rule it promulgated was not unconstitutional.
Network attorneys are available to answer questions on this and other public health topics at no cost to you, and can assist you in using law to advance your public health initiatives. Contact a Network Attorney in your area for more information.
The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.