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Medical coercion? Texas teacher promises extra credit for completing a controversial assignment

A teacher at a Lake Dallas high school raised eyebrows for offering extra credit to students who received the flu vaccine. The extra credit was eventually pulled. (Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty Images)

What's the story?

A teacher at a Lake Dallas, Texas, high school is being accused of discrimination after she offered extra credit only to students who received the flu vaccine.

What are the details?

A Dallas mother, who wished to remain unidentified, was sure her son was mistaken last month when he came home from Lake Dallas High School and told her that his Pre-AP biology teacher was offering extra credit to students who received the flu vaccine.

She told TheBlaze that she emailed the teacher to clarify, assuming her son had heard wrong, or that he was unaware of alternate options to earn extra credit. But her email exchange only solidified her son's version of the story: get the flu vaccine or no extra credit.

"My son is a student in your Pre-AP Biology class. He came home mentioning extra credit opportunities. Can you tell me what the options are please?" the boy's mother asked in the email exchange.

"I told the class that I would give them extra credit (100 on a 'minor' grade) if they get a flu vaccine. Other than that, there's no extra credit this semester," the teacher replied.

"Thank you for getting back with me regarding the extra credit. We have a health issue at our house that prevents us from getting the flu vaccine. Can you please give an alternative option for [redacted] to be able to participate in the extra credit opportunity?" the mother asked.

"I'm sorry Ms. [redacted], that's the only extra credit I offer in Pre-AP Biology," wrote the teacher.

Image used with permission from the student's mother. (Sara Gonzales/TheBlaze)

The boy's mother told TheBlaze she wasn't sure how to react at first.

"I honestly sat on it for three days in disbelief. I had to wrap my brain around why it felt so wrong. To me, it was giving my child medical advice and it was putting an impression on my child that her way was the right way and we weren't allowed to be any different. It's just wrong," she said in an interview.

"Is the school going to pay the medical bills if my son has a reaction?" she added.

She called the office and left a message for the principal, who did not return her call at first. After a second attempt, she reached the principal, who seemed initially reluctant to confront the teacher about the issue, but finally agreed to come up with a solution.

Lake Dallas ISD public relations director Melaynee Broadstreet told TheBlaze on Monday that the extra credit had been pulled and was no longer available.

"This issue was brought to the attention of the campus administrators at the time (mid-September) and resolved within a few days. The option of the flu shot extra credit was removed and will not be used as extra credit in the future," Broadstreet said.

So the issue is resolved?

Not quite. Another parent, whose child is in a different class taught by the same teacher, told TheBlaze their class received the same extra credit opportunity. And while she read that the teacher was told to amend her extra credit opportunity, to her there was one glaring problem: her son said the teacher never announced or explained the changes to the extra credit policy.

"All these kids are getting vaccinated and they aren't being told they won't receive extra credit anymore," she told TheBlaze.

Why does it matter?

The flu vaccine is not required to attend public schools in the state of Texas, which is one of many states that also offers vaccine exemptions to those who do not wish to get vaccinated, for medical reasons or otherwise.

Without debating the merits of vaccination, it isn't difficult to see how this could be problematic.

  • Is this medical coercion?
  • Should students and parents feel pressured to share their health and medical information with the teacher?
  • Who would be financially responsible, should a student get the vaccine for extra credit and have a reaction?
  • Is this a violation of privacy?
  • Being that there is a small percentage of the population who cannot get the flu vaccine for health reasons, is this discriminatory?

 

One last thing…
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