Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

Hans Laetz / Special to the Daily Press

Fourteen employees of the Santa Monica Malibu school district were fired during the Thursday, Nov. 18, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education meeting.

On Friday, spokesperson Gail Pinsker confirmed nearly all of the terminations were due to employees’ non-compliance with vaccine mandates that went into effect on Oct. 1 for staff of the Santa Monica-based school district.

“I can confirm that 13 dismissals were due to refusal to be vaccinated, which is now a term of employment,” Pinsker wrote in an email.

According to information disclosed during the meeting, the 13 were charged with violating the state education code, which allows a school district to fire staff for cause.

The terminations included a Malibu High School groundskeeper who was let go over the mandatory vaccination requirement.

One teacher was also let go, though there was no word on what caused that.

A representative for the Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers’ Association, which represents “the employee groups: Child Development Teachers, Early Childhood Teachers, K-12 Teachers, Speech/Language Pathologists, Counselors, Librarians, Adult Education Teachers, Substitute Teachers, Nurses and other non-administrative positions within the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District,” wrote that the dismissals were “classified employees”—not teachers.

“The reality is that we did not lose that many members due to the vaccine mandate,” Claudia Bautista-Nicholas, SMMCTA president, wrote in an email on Wednesday. “I think the total number may be four out of more than 500 teachers. I know that each person that leaves a site seems like a big blow, but teachers are great supporters of the vaccines. As a Union, we support vaccines for all that are eligible, masking at school and testing. This has kept most of our students healthy and learning in person and that is what we all want in the end.”

At the Thursday meeting, no move was made to require vaccines for kids—a topic of continuing debate in the district.

SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati again urged parents of kids ages five and up to get their children vaccinated.

The school district has hired nurses to administer COVID-19 vaccines. The school district will offer the shots to anyone in the community, no matter if they have kids in the schools or not. SMMUSD clinics will be held on Nov. 30 at McKinley and Dec. 1 at Malibu High School (visit https://myturn.ca.gov/index.html to make appointments at SMMUSD or other clinics).

Public schools are still requiring students to wear masks, whether they are vaccinated or not, in line with countywide mask mandates. The district will soon be sending out a survey on safety protocols to middle and high school parents.

Originally published in the Malibu Times.