Parents grapple with effects of NYS vaccination laws

Local

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For 10 years, Bronwyn Fackrell’s children were in school. She doesn’t vaccinate them because of her family’s religious beliefs. She says there were never any problems, except for an exclusion from school once because of a chicken pox outbreak, but nothing came of it.

“We have followed the law. We have been law abiding citizens all this time,” Fackrell told News10, “we have never been part of an outbreak.”

Then the religious exemptions were removed from the law, and she had to pull her kids out of school. Three of them had been receiving IEPs, or Individualized Education Programs, for various reasons. They missed the deadline for applying for an IEP for homeschooled students, which was before the law passed. 

She says she tried to communicate with the school district as word of the new law was coming down the pike, but even the school district acknowledged in a letter to the Board of Regents that they thought the law was enacted too quickly.

An FAQ page for the State Education Department and Department of Health says for the 2019-20 school year, school districts are encouraged to honor parent requests for special education services for homeschooled children who may be impacted by the repeal of religious exemptions to vaccination requirements. 

Michael Smith, Legislative Director for the Autism Action Network, thinks even if the children receive their IEP, getting it outside of school still has its flaws.

“There’s thousands of kids with IEPs who have been kicked out of school, and under federal law, they’re legally required to provide these services to the children,” Smith told News10. “They say under IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to do so in a least restrictive setting. Being alone at home certainly isn’t a least restrictive setting in a least restrictive environment.”

When News10 requested comment from the NYS Board of Education about what families with unvaccinated children should do, we were directed to this FAQ.

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