Kansas judge blocks college from failing nursing student who denied COVID-19 vaccine
Kansas judge blocks college from failing nursing student who denied COVID-19 vaccine

Kansas judge blocks college from failing nursing student who denied COVID-19 vaccine

EMPORIA – A district court judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction preventing a technical school from recording erroneous grades for a nursing student who, for religious reasons, refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The student, Molly Ellis, claimed unlawful discrimination in a lawsuit filed Feb. 2 in Lyon County District Court v. Flint Hills Technical College and the director of its nursing program. After a three-hour hearing Tuesday, Judge W. Lee Fowler issued the injunction pending a mandatory conciliation conference.

Ellis testified that she refused the COVID-19 vaccine because of “fetal mucosa taken from abortions a few decades ago.” After this, Fowler led lawyers away from issues related to fetal tissue and vaccines.

While fetal cell lines were used in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, according to National Institutes of Healththey are not used in the production of the shoots.

“We were relieved today,” said Linus Baker, the Johnson County attorney who represented Ellis. “She is still in nursing education, so first come first served. They had already put the ax on her neck and we stopped it. The referee stopped it. “

In 2017, Baker and his wife, Terri, sued the Kansas Department of Children and Families for preventing it from immunizing their foster grandchild with reference to religious and health concerns. In 2019 became Bakers sued Blue Valley school district and state officials over vaccinations.

On Monday, Governor Laura Kelly headed the Kansas agencies to comply with state law when complying with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that includes facilities for the federal vaccine mandate if they receive funding under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services directives. During a special session last November, Kansas law exempted employees from the COVID-19 vaccine requirements by stating a religious reason without giving details of their beliefs.

Ellis was unable to complete her clinical trials, requiring training that provides real-world experience at emergency facilities because she was assigned a facility that required the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the lawsuit. Tuesday’s injunction will require the school to state her grades as incomplete until a settlement is reached.

The judge said the conciliation conference will take place within 60 days.

The FHTC had awarded Ellis to Newman Regional Health in Emporia for her internship, according to court documents. The hospital requires nursing students to be vaccinated. The college refused to direct her to another facility after she made her religious objection known, according to testimony Tuesday. Newman Regional Health is not a party to the lawsuit.

The director of nursing education, Kim McNeese, described in detail the school’s nursing education and its procedures. Ellis had missed three clinical trials, leading to an error grade.

“No exceptions have been made to” Ellis, McNeese testified.

The college offers an 11-month technical nursing program and is part of the Kansas Board of Regents system. FHTC had an enrollment in 2021 of 562 full-time students, according to the regents.

Fourteen other students are currently enrolled in the nursing program, McNeese said.

The governor’s directive on Monday, which told agencies to follow state law, said the sincerity of religious beliefs among those seeking exemptions should not be questioned.

“Facilities must grant a waiver to the federal COVID-19 vaccine claim if the employee submits a written waiver request stating that compliance with the requirement would violate the employee’s sincere religious beliefs,” the statement said. “Religious beliefs include, but are not limited to, theistic and non-theistic moral and ethical beliefs about what is right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Facilities must not question the sincerity of the request. “

Ellis testified Tuesday that she had sent an email to McNeese stating her religious objection to the vaccine requirement in late January. She also said she had not received any vaccinations since she was in kindergarten.

“We’re finding out the rest about how we keep her in the nursing program,” Baker said after the hearing. “And she gets to maintain her allegiance to her religious beliefs. She does not have to exchange it to get a nursing education, which I think would be the reasonable result in this case. “

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