No personal liability for officials who impose COVID public health restrictions in California schools

personal liability

This article about personal liability for officials who impose public health mandates in schools was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

I was asked to address a piece of misinformation that has, apparently, taken off in anti-vaccine circles. Starting from the end — no, activists (or parents) cannot hold school boards and superintendents personally liable for imposing COVID-19 restrictions. No, there is no surety bond that would freeze school funds. The threat to use a surety bond in this context is not a valid legal threat.

If school boards and superintendents receive such threats, they should realize this is, in fact, pseudo-law used by science deniers to try and intimidate, just as sovereign citizens use similar tactics to attack traffic courts, and the officials’ job is not to give in.

The claim I am addressing appears to be a national effort, with a California-specific branch. In this post, I will try to explain why this personal liability does not hold generally, but also give specific points for California. 

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