Can My Child Be Denied a Religious Exemption to Vaccination Requirements?
To enroll a child in school, there are a variety of requirements that must be met, including receiving medical, dental, and vision examinations. Parents will also be required to submit evidence that children have received the proper immunizations. However, there are cases in which parents may choose not to have their children vaccinated due to religious reasons, and Illinois law allows these parents to request a religious exemption to the immunization requirements. Due to the politically charged nature of the debate surrounding vaccination, parents should be sure to understand how Illinois law applies to them and consult with an attorney experienced in school law when addressing religious exemptions.
Understanding Religious Exemptions
If parents object to some or all of the vaccination requirements for their children, they may submit a Certificate of Religious Exemption when enrolling children in school. This certificate will state the religious grounds for requesting an exemption for each type of vaccination. It must also be signed by a medical doctor who has provided education to the parents about the benefits of immunization and the health risks for the child and the community that may result from foregoing vaccinations.
The Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/27-8.1) states that a religious objection to immunization does not have to be based on specific tenets of an established religious organization. However, the decision to forego vaccinations cannot be based on general philosophical or moral principles, or for personal reasons. Ultimately, the local school authority will determine whether the reasons stated on a Certificate of Religious Exemption are valid religious objections to vaccination. A school may also prevent a child with a religious exemption from attending school in the event of an outbreak of a disease for which a child has not been immunized.
The laws regarding religious exemptions to vaccinations apply to all schools, including public, private, and parochial schools, as well as preschools and daycare centers. A Certificate of Religious Exemption must be submitted when enrolling a child in Kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade.
What if My Child Is Denied Enrollment?
Since it is up to a school to determine whether the reasons provided for a religious objection to vaccination are valid, a child who has not received the required immunizations may not be allowed to enroll in a school. In fact, some private schools have implemented policies in which religious exemptions are not accepted. In these cases, you should work with an attorney to determine your legal options for ensuring that your child can attend school and receive the education they deserve.
Contact a DuPage County School Law Attorney
If you are enrolling your child in school, the lawyers of MKFM law can review your Certificate of Religious Exemption to ensure that all legal requirements are met, and we make sure your rights are protected under Illinois law. If your child has been denied enrollment to a public or private school, we can help you determine the steps you should take. To contact our Downers Grove education law attorneys, call our office at 630-665-7300.