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San Antonio ISD’s staff vaccine mandate survives 2nd hearing

San Antonio ISD interim superintendent Robert Jaklich reads a book to a kindergarten class.
Camille Phillips
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio ISD Interim Superintendent Robert Jaklich says he's committed to maintaining all of the district's COVID-19 safety protocols, including its mask and staff vaccine mandates.

With two weeks left before its vaccine mandate goes into effect, the San Antonio Independent School District has survived a second hearing in a case filed by the state of Texas challenging the school district. The next trial is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2022.

Bexar County District Judge Mary Lou Alvarez denied the state’s request for a temporary injunction blocking the vaccine mandate Friday.

After hearing cases presented by lawyers representing SAISD and lawyers with the Texas Attorney General’s office, Alvarez said the state failed to provide evidence that allowing the mandate to continue until the trial would cause irreparable harm.

“Today was evidentiary in nature. That is the process. That is what is required,” Alvarez said. “To the extent that the state has offered eloquent, passionate arguments, thank you for the presentation. (But) this is not the town square. This is not the place for bullhorn arguments.”

The attorney general’s office plans to appeal her ruling.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Education News Desk, including H-E-B Helping Here, Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation and Holly and Alston Beinhorn.

SAISD’s mandate requires employees to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Friday, Oct.15.

Aaron Reitz with the attorney general’s office argued that their suit is a “simple legal question about who is in authority during a statewide disaster, and called SAISD’s argument against the suit a “bunch of noise to confuse that issue.”

Steve Chiscano, representing SAISD, accused the AG’s office of trying to go “straight to dessert” by making their case without proving the governor’s order banning vaccine mandates aligns with the purpose of the Texas Disaster Act, which gives the governor the authority to issue orders during an emergency.

During the first hearing for the lawsuit last week, Bexar County District Judge Angelica Jimenez denied San Antonio ISD’s request to dismiss the state’s lawsuit.

SAISD attorneys argued that the state lacked the jurisdiction to file the suit, but Jimenez disagreed. SAISD initially appealed her ruling, but dismissed their appeal on Tuesday.

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