Texas attorney general wants Texas Supreme Court to reverse ruling regarding SAISD vaccine mandate

Fourth Court of Appeals ruled in July in favor of district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees

FILE: SAISD

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has not given up his fight against San Antonio ISD.

Paxton last week filed a petition requesting that the Texas Supreme Court review and reverse a ruling by the Fourth Court of Appeals that allows SAISD to keep its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees. In addition, the attorney general wants the high court to issue an injunction against the mandate.

The appeals court in July ruled in favor of SAISD, which was the first district in the state to announce the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees, with a few exemptions allowed due to disability or religious reasons. The ruling came after the Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted enforcement of the district’s vaccine mandate last October after Paxton sued the school district for violating Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-39, which prohibits government entities from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.

The district’s mandate remains on pause, but SAISD Interim Chief Communications Officer Laura Short said in July that the lawsuit set an important precedent.

“The school district’s ability to provide for the health and safety of its staff and students is essential, and this court ruling makes clear that the Governor may not override the school district’s statutory authority,” Short said.

The appeals court’s ruling confirmed that executive orders at the state level are neither superior or inferior to a local order saying, “we again conclude that the Governor does not possess absolute authority under the Texas Disaster Act to preempt orders issued by governmental entities and officials.”

The court also affirmed that the district’s vaccine mandate did not violate Section 418.018(c) of the Texas Disaster Act, which states that the governor may control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area, so Abbott’s Executive Order GA-39 would not apply in this case.

“... nothing in the District’s vaccine mandate precludes individuals from entering the schools within the district because they are not vaccinated. Instead, the District’s vaccination mandate specifically applies only to employees as a condition of employment, not as a condition of ‘ingress and egress,’ ‘occupancy of premises,’ or ‘movement of persons within the school district,” the Fourth Court of Appeals ruled.

You can read Paxton’s petition below:

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.