Texas AG sues San Antonio ISD again over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Vaccine mandate violates Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, attorney general argues

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, is suing SAISD and Superintendent Pedro Martinez, right, over the district's vaccine mandate.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, is suing SAISD and Superintendent Pedro Martinez, right, over the district's vaccine mandate. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General sued San Antonio ISD over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the second time on Monday, arguing that it violates a recent executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

In August, SAISD became the first district in the state to require vaccinations from employees. In a letter to SAISD staff members, Martinez said the district has the authority to mandate vaccinations for employees according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with a few exceptions, like religious beliefs and health reasons.

Paxton first sued the district on Aug. 19, after Abbott’s executive banned governmental entities from requiring vaccinations that are not fully authorized by the FDA. However, the lawsuit quickly became irrelevant after the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA authorization.

Just days after the vaccine was fully authorized for use, Abbott issued another executive order, banning vaccine mandates despite full FDA authorization.

The executive order allows Paxton to challenge the district’s mandate again, which was set to take effect on Oct. 15.

“The decision to openly violate state law and devote district resources to defending Superintendent Martinez’s unlawful actions is irresponsible,” Attorney General Paxton said. “But if school districts decide to use their limited funding to try to get away with breaking the law, my office will oppose them and uphold the rule of law in Texas.”

The legal challenge may be complicated by a federal executive order signed by President Joe Biden, which requires employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines or test for the virus weekly. However, the order does not explicitly require vaccines for teachers in locally governed schools.

SAISD officials issued this statement in response to the lawsuit:

“We cannot comment on pending litigation. However, we know that our safety protocols are in line with what has been mandated at the federal level for certain employers. The vaccines are considered safe, with the FDA granting full approval to one of vaccines so far. We will continue to lead by example. Our focus remains on providing a healthy, stable environment for our students and staff – they deserve that.”


About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.