Lawsuit filed against Montgomery County schools over vaccine mandate

A Montgomery County, Maryland, employee has filed a lawsuit against the district’s public school system over its vaccine mandate, arguing that receiving the vaccine violates his “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The plaintiff, identified under the pseudonym “John Doe” in the lawsuit, is described as “an adherent of the Christian faith” who believes that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would “constitute a sin in the eyes of God.”

According to the lawsuit, Doe asked for and was denied a religious exemption by Montgomery County Public Schools.

Court documents say that Doe has complied with and is willing to continue to comply with all other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including getting tested weekly and wearing a mask.

Originally, the Center for American Liberty’s website, the group that is representing Doe, stated that the client’s religious objection is based on what it referred to as “the usage of aborted fetal cells in the testing, creation, and manufacturing of the Covid-19 vaccine.” The reference was removed Wednesday night. WTOP reached out to the center for an explanation for the change.

According to an informational document from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, COVID-19 vaccines do not contain fetal cells. But the document states, “some COVID-19 vaccines use a historic fetal cell line in production and manufacturing.”

Johnson & Johnson used what’s referred to a “fetal cell line” to produce and manufacture its vaccine but does not contain any aborted fetal cells.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines did not use a fetal cell line to produce and manufacture their vaccine, but a fetal cell line was used early in the development “to confirm efficacy prior to production and manufacturing.”

The lawsuit says that Doe’s job doesn’t put him in the classroom: he is not a teacher, but works in administration. According to the complaint, Doe could perform his job remotely 60-80% of the time.

Under the school system’s vaccination mandate, refusing to be vaccinated could result in termination. The lawsuit said that would cause Doe and his family “irreparable harm.”

Chris Cram, the director for the department of communications for the school district, said in an email to WTOP that “The general counsel’s office reports they were made aware of the suit but they have not seen it or its specifics.”

A number of school districts in the region, including public schools in Howard and Anne Arundel counties in Maryland, the D.C. and Fairfax County, Virginia, have also adopted a vaccine mandate for employees.

Montgomery County schools employs 25,000 people, and the vaccination mandate was adopted by the Board of Education in early September. Employees are required to provide proof of their first vaccination by Thursday and proof of the second vaccination by Oct. 29.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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