Education Law §914(1) requires that every child attending school submit proof of the immunizations required by Public Health Law §2164. Under New York law, local school officials are given the important task of ensuring that only children with proof of vaccinations enter school, where they may spread or contract diseases against which they have not been vaccinated.
The Bayport-Blue Point Board of Education is aware that such laws requiring that children be immunized before they begin school have contributed to a 98% to 100% reduction in the incidence of most vaccine- preventable diseases, and therefore takes its role seriously in the implementation of said laws. At the same time this Board of Education recognizes the need to balance the protection of the public health against the statutory right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own religious views.
The State Education Department by its own decree states that, “School district officials are charged with the responsibility of determining, on a case-by-case basis, whether a parent/guardian is entitled to invoke the religious exemption from required immunizations.” Like it or not, it becomes the duty of every Board of Education to judge the merits of each request specific to Public Health Law §2164 section (9) regarding exemptions to the parent(s) or guardian who “hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs,” which are contrary to immunization.
Although many of our residents have applauded our efforts and the scrutiny we give to each request for an exemption, others have complained about what they believe to be the intrusive nature of follow up interviews which may be conducted. We are not unmindful of these concerns. However, we will continue to uphold the law and our responsibilities as a Board of Education until these laws are changed or New York Sate dictates otherwise.