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A resolution presented by school board member Andrew Cruz for the purpose of “putting on the record where individual board members stand on the question of government overreach and personal freedom,” was called out as “ridiculous” by a Chino resident and defeated 3-2 during a heated board meeting Sept. 16. 

Mr. Cruz received support from trustee James Na and “no” votes came from President Joe Schaffer, Don Bridge, and Christina Gagnier.

Mr. Cruz asked that the resolution opposing statewide COVID-19 vaccination mandates be placed on the agenda with his own wording, some of which included: 

“Whereas board member Cruz believes that the use of coercion as a means to make individuals submit to vaccination is unacceptable; and whereas the district opposes statewide vaccination mandates that puts employment at risk and compromises personal freedom.” 

The meeting was rife with contention and interruptions from the audience, prompting President Schaffer to use the gavel a few times asking for order.

A group of parents who are members of the Parent Association of Chino Valley with 1,000 supporters have been passionately taking their concerns before the school board and feeling they are not being heard. 

Juli Santorsola said the vaccine mandate is unlawful and the school district does not have the right or legal authority to demand vaccines. 

She said the vaccines could have life-changing side effects and cannot be trusted. 

“Will you be personally responsible for these side effects,” she said. “We want you to do the right thing.” 

Parent Oscar Avila introduced his daughter Isabella Avila who developed a severe migraine during class but was too nervous to see the school nurse because of her concerns she would be sent home for 10 days, he said. 

Mr. Avila said the vaccine is too new to trust. “You’re gambling with the future of our entire country and with all our lives,” he said. 

Chino Hills resident Jim Gallagher said he believes the Cruz resolution, as written, was intended to create political division and that a broader resolution would have been more effective.

He said the mandate allows those who do not wish to be vaccinated to be tested weekly instead.

School board member James Na thanked everybody for coming to speak their mind. 

“If you don’t speak up for your children, no one will,” he said. Mr. Na said teachers and staff should not be forced to get vaccinations because some of them have fears about the shots. 

“It should be up to them,” he said. 

Trustee Don Bridge, a former history teacher, said  after looking at the resolution, he believes a historical perspective is in order. 

Going back to 1898, diseases have been defeated with vaccines, but there was always controversy surrounding the shots, he said, citing several examples.

Mr. Cruz said his resolution was most likely not going to pass but he wanted the people to know who will vote yes and who will vote no. He said everybody should watch out for Oct. 15, the date the mandates go into effect.

He engaged in a protracted monologue about forced vaccinations, civil war, Biden’s speech, food supply problems, free will, science versus rights, and being elected three times, after which he received applause. 

Trustee Christina Gagnier said, “I want to be very clear that getting a vaccine is a choice. What is being asked is to get vaccinated or submit to a COVID test.” 

She said her number one goal is to keep the schools open, unlike some other campuses that have been shut down. 

Mrs. Gagnier acknowledged that school boards have become the focal point for such debates that are taking too much oxygen out of the room.

President Schaffer said the resolution had nowhere to go. 

“This board has no right to mandate anything as far as vaccines or masks,” he said. “That all comes from the state.” 

Mr. Schaffer said  parents who are at odds with the order should contact their state assemblypersons, state senators, the governor’s office, or the California Department of Public Health.

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