State law unclear on enforcement, says local school superintendent

Superintendent Steve Noble said when it comes to the inoculation of local students, the policy of the USD 410 board is to follow state law.

But Noble said it?s not crystal clear to him what K.S.A 72-5208 and related statutes actually allow or require when it comes to dealing with students who are not inoculated.

For the most part the law is clear that children must be immunized against chicken pox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and influenza type B before or shortly after being allowed to enroll.

Medical exemptions are allowed if the danger to health is documented by a physician; religious exemptions are allowed with documentation from a church authority.

?We use a (Kansas Certificate of Immunizations) form to tell parents we need these inoculations up-to-date in order for (their child) to be admitted to school,? he said.

?It gives our district the right to exclude a student if parents don?t show us the appropriate documentation, according to state law.?

What?s less clear, according to Noble, is when exclusion is required and when it?s optional.

?At one point, the statute uses ?shall? language and later it uses ?may? language,? he said. ?I think the Kansas statute is incredibly vague.?

Noble said he?s not alone in that opinion.

?Diedre Serene, our school nurse, said the medical community has had many discussions about this, and that the state law is vague on whether it?s ?shall be excluded? or ?may? be excluded.??

Noble said the district has had ?isolated? requests from parents to allow their children to be exempt from the required inoculations?a few ask for medical reasons, but more because of religious reasons.

To this point, Noble hasn?t been forced into the gray area regarding enforcement. But he has asked the school attorney to provide a clearer interpretation of the law.

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