Editor's note: The following letter, dated Sept. 7, 2012, is from Dr. James B. Phares, Randolph County superintendent of schools, to parent Phil Hudok, in regard to the issue of required immunizations for the 2012-2013 school year.
Dear Mr. Hudok:
Due to your affirmed stance, both privately and publically (sic) of noncompliance in the immunization requirement for 12th grade students, we have forwarded your intent and exemption note from Dr. Arnette to the local Health Department Officials (sic).
They have denied the exemption and have directed us not to admit Olivia to school beginning Monday, September 10th, 2012. Their response has been forwarded to me and will be sent to you by health department officials via certified mail. I have attached the Health Department memo to this document.
The memo explains that school officials must deny enrollment to a child if a local health officer determines that the child cannot attend school for failure to obtain the required vaccinations. The local health department memo issued by Dr. Mary Boyd directs Randolph County Schools to not admit Olivia as of Monday, September 10th.
I regret that you or I are in position of having to be the gatekeeper in the situation before us. I do know that county boards of education or superintendents do not have the authority to refute an order from a public health officer. The temporary injunction order to stop the implementation of the DHHR rule was denied in Kanawha County Circuit yesterday. The authority in this matter belongs to the discretion of Local Health Officers (sic). This has been affirmed by both Randolph County School legal counsel and West Virginia Department of Education legal counsel.
I suspect that you will understand the school system's need to have local law enforcement on standby for her removal and notice of trespass if she should present herself at school on September 10th, 2012. I would implore that you not place family, friends, students and colleagues at Pickens School in such a situation but would choose a more reasoned method for challenging the Health Department ruling. As always, I am open to find common ground that will bring a reasoned resolution to this issue.
Dr. James B. Phares
weighs in on issue
A student, Olivia Hudok, must be refused admission to Pickens School because she has not shown proof of the Tdap vaccine, the appropriate MCV vaccine, or both as required by law for school entry to 7th or 12th grade.
The student has been referred to their own health care provider to obtain these vaccines.
The letter will confirm this student's status as of today's date September 6, 2012.
The department has been notified that this student has NOT received the required vaccines, refuses to receive them and does not have a valid medical exemption from vaccine requirements. Therefore, this student may not be admitted to school to protect the public health.
Signature: Mary S. Boyd, Health Officer
Randolph-Elkins Health Department
32 Randolph Avenue Suite 101
Elkins, West Virginia 26241
CC: Pickens School
Dr. Phares Superintendent
Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hudok
Prosecuting Attorney's Office