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Vladovic lashes out at Gutierrez over position on vaccinations

Michael Janofsky | April 10, 2015

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Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

A skirmish has broken out between LA Unified board President Richard Vladovic and Lydia Gutierrez, his opponent in the May 19 runoff election for District 7, over the issue of vaccinations for students.

In response to Gutierrez’s opposition to a state senate bill that would bar parents from opting out of vaccinations for their children, Vladovic yesterday accused her of “knowingly and willingly” endangering the lives of LA Unified students.

“Ms. Gutierrez, there is plenty of room for differences of opinion on the School Board, but there is no room for policies that put our children at risk,” he told her in a letter, a copy of which was given to LA School Report. “Your position is not only extreme, it is dangerous. I urge you to revise your position — for the sake of the over six hundred thousand LAUSD students that would be affected should an outbreak occur.”

Gutierrez responded on her Facebook page, accusing Vladovic of “misrepresenting” her position.

“Vaccinations are important to the lives of children and their parents. My belief is ‘only’ that children are checked for allergic reactions prior to receiving any vaccinations. I personally had an allergic reaction to a chemical I ingested which I had to learn to walk again with permanent nerve damage. Vladovic should spend more time finding money to give teachers a raise since they haven’t received one in 8 years, instead of wasting time misquoting my viewpoint.”

Her comment has drawn more than 160 “Likes.”

An email message sent to Gutierrez for further comment went unanswered.

The conflict arose after a state Senate committee on Wednesday voted 6-2 in support of a bill that effectively makes vaccinations mandatory, removing an exemption that allows parents to send children to school without the shots, based on their personal beliefs.

Some parents object on the grounds of maintaining freedom over government mandates while others cite their belief that vaccines cause autism despite assurances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that no link has been established.

For Vladovic, who won the March primary with just 42.6 percent of the vote to Gutierrez’s 37.6 percent, it was a rare public display of censure. As board president, he generally moves things along gently at board meetings and expresses opinions without criticizing those holding opposing views.

His letter to Gutierrez was unusually sharp in tone, and it appeared to give him an issue on which he can draw a clear distinction from his opponent.

“There are times in the course of an election where candidates are called to address issues that go beyond mere differences in leadership styles or accomplishments,” he said in his letter. “Issues that get to the heart of why we are involved in this crucially important field of education. This is one of those times.”

At its next meeting, scheduled for April 14, the school board is voting on a resolution that urges the state legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to approve the senate bill “as a way to protect all students from potentially serious yet preventable diseases.”

The measure is sponsored by Tamar Galatzan and George McKenna and is expected to pass easily.

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