Witness a NY Religious "Sincerity Test" for Vaccine Exemption
By Rita Palma
This can’t happen in America. But it can in New York.
You’ll see a ‘sincerity test’-- conducted by a school attorney when my husband and I filed a religious waiver to refuse vaccines for our boys. David Cohen, attorney for our school, wanted to make supersure that we really, really believed in God. Of course, those people who lie about their belief in God are much more prone to diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, etc.—those disease-ridden atheists must be kept out of the public schools.
(There are three You Tube videos of the test.)
We failed our ‘sincerity test’- twice.
The first time, Mr. Cohen asked us about the vitamins I give my kids, “Why fish oil, Mrs. Palma?” He asked about the foods I serve and the medicines I use. He accused me of forging a vaccine record. The Board of Education President, Jim March, said that since I had an ‘invasive’ Titers test done on my son, how could I truly object to vaccines?
We appealed to the Commissioner of Education who upheld the denial- five days before school started. We appealed; NYS Supreme Court dismissed our case as moot. But only after I explained to the judge that he could not waive immunization requirements. He thought he could personally decide what was needed for school admission. “If the disease is not so contagious then you don’t have to get the shot, right?” he says. So much for the court system.
The second ‘truth-test’and it’s all about God, me and Mr. Dave. “Do you have conversations with God? Does He tell you not immunize? If God is on your side, can He be on the side of those who immunize? If God created man and man created vaccinations, how can accepting vaccines represent a mistrust in God? Have your religious beliefs changed in two years?” The video speaks for itself. Ninety minutes of harassment, outrageous questions and praying my husband (and me) would stay in his seat.
Mr. Cohen said it is part of the ‘sincerity’ to reconcile my Faith. But does religion reconcile? Does it make sense? Whatever your answer is, we believe anyway-- it’s called Faith. Mr. Cohen didn’t get it so I got an “F” for sincerity. He believes that in order for me to believe something, he has to believe I believe it.
The law provides an exemption that fits squarely with our beliefs. All we wanted to do was follow the law and we were treated worse than criminals. The school berated, harassed, intimidated, humiliated and outspent us.
Should it be the decision of a school board to decide if we believe in God and what to put into our children’s bodies? What, after all, do we truly own in life? Our kids, our souls, our beliefs, our convictions.
The policy of my school is to cross examine and deny. A dozen other couples have been tortured by the ‘Team Vaccine’ of Bayport- Blue Point School District. One parent was told to come down for a ‘few minutes’. Three hours later, she left in tears—asked the same questions, over and over and over. Another parent has to ‘re-up’ the waiver every year—they have to tell the wise and powerful Board that yes, my beliefs are still the same as last year.
Another couple took them to court and won. Others avoid the ugliness and attend Catholic School. Be sure to watch Part 3, minutes 3-4 of the video as Mr. Cohen discusses these people and their options. Cohen admits that those with sincere religious beliefs get denied anyway.
Is this America? Or, ‘Alice in Wonderland’- where up is down, black is white and the Mad Hatter is judging the sincerity of my soul? Can this go on in a country founded on religious freedom? Does America mean something, or was it just a really neat idea? Were our founding fathers drinking too much toddy and this whole thing really can’t work after all? How can they get away with this?
Schools are their own government in New York. They can, if they choose, thumb their noses at the guidelines that the NYS Education Department sets. They can ignore ‘mandates’, Open Meetings Laws and Freedom of Information Laws. They make their own rules and break others. Unless a parent has a bottomless pit of money to litigate, the school gets to play Lord of the Fiefdom; we are the serfs. While most are run by good people, the arrogance of some reflects badly for the many.
I handed in a medical waiver; bona fide and acceptable by any other school. Rejected by the ‘Team Vaccine.’ Again, they can legally do it.
What if I had a vaccine-injured child that I did not want to vaccinate? What if this child needed public school services? What if Mr. Dave and the ‘Team Vaccine’ denied these waivers, I crumbled and the child died as a result of additional vaccine injury? Who do I shoot first? Myself?
I am determined to reclaim a right that no parent should ever lose and it has been a test of faith. Faith that our Legislators will improve our laws so parents are not subjected to a modern-day witch hunt. Faith that more parents will wake up to the fact that vaccines cause more tragedy than they are led to believe. Faith that the medical establishment will own up to the half and hidden truths they’ve peddled for decades at the expense of families. Faith that parents will be able to ‘opt in’ and never be harassed by a buffoon attorney or an arrogant, ignorant Board of Education. Faith that I will earn the good fortune that God gave me and pass laws that will help other parents live their beliefs.
In the years since I turned my back on vaccines, I’ve met hundreds of strong, smart parents that will make these things happen.
Did I immunize? This is America, and in spite of the government, there are still choices.
Rita M. Palma
Also from Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information, "Care at Home for the Immunocompromised Patient":
"Avoid crowds if possible. An area is crowded if you are within an arm's length of other people."
Sounds like a school to me.
Posted by: Linda1 | April 01, 2015 at 08:12 PM
I can certainly understand your desire to protect your child, and am sorry that she or he has autoimmune issues.
I am assuming from what you wrote that your child has not received certain vaccines, because of a medical reason?
In the article, the author points out that the school rejected a MEDICAL exemption. That means they could also attempt to force your child to get vaccines that a doctor has said are not safe.
We may be fighting to protect your child from vaccine injury as well. What might happen if your immunocompromised child was forcedby a school board to have vaccines that the doctor has said he/she shouldn't have?
I have no idea how immunocompromised your child is.
But I do wonder how children for whom even a cold or virus could be devastating, can attend a public school. There are no vaccines for colds, and as you know, vaccinated or not, sniffles and coughs and stomach issues are repeatedly going through schools.
Would any of these things, which you can't vaccinate against, be dangerous for your child?
If so, then vaccinating our children against rare diseases won't protect your child from any of these things.
Did you know that the nasal flu vaccine per studies can shed weakened live flu virus?
Here us a study that you can find on google scholar, just put in the title:
"Duration of Virus Shedding after Trivalent Intranasal Live attenuated Influenza Vaccination"
They found the live flu virus in the noses of 10 of the 20 vaccinees on day 3, and in 1 of 18 vaccinees on day 7.
They said younger adults shed more virus than older adults.
So: medical proof of vaccinated people shedding live flu virus because of the live virus nasal vaccine.
By the way, St Judes ( the well known children's cancer hospital) states that anyone who has received the live polio or smallpox vaccines within 4 weeks should visit at a later date, similarly anyone who has developed a rash after the MMR, chickenpox or shingles vaccines.
Who knew there was a risk to immunocompromised cancer patients from recently vaccinated individuals?
Well, apparently St Jude thinks there is.
I hope your child stays safe and well. Please remember, if you support taking away all exemptions, it may be your medically exempt child who will eventually be forced to be vaccinated as well.
No one cares or speaks up when they injure our kids. Sweep it under the table and damage some more.
By the way, Angelica Black is in a wheelchair unable to walk or speak from a government conceded vaccine injury.
Holly Lyle, rest in peace, is dead from her second MMR, also conceded by the federal government.
You can google them too.
As a mother, please care about the vaccine injured children too. You know what it is like to have a child with chronic ill health. Thanks to vaccines, so do many of the people here,too.
Posted by: Hera | April 01, 2015 at 07:18 PM
You do realize that many if not most of the readers here have children who were gravely harmed by vaccines and because of their injuries will never enjoy sitting in a classroom and socializing with other children? Do you know you're speaking to people whose kids will never be independent because of vaccines?
No immune compromised child should be spend their days in an institution, especially a school with hundreds or thousands of kids passing around virulent pathogens, including AND ESPECIALLY those who have been vaccinated within the prior 4-6 weeks.
From Johns Hopkins instructions for "Care at Home for the Immunocompromised Patient" (caps, my emphasis):
"Tell friends and family who are sick, or have recently had a live vaccine (such as chicken pox, measles, rubella, intranasal influenza, polio or smallpox) not to visit...
AVOID CONTACT WITH CHILDREN WHO WERE RECENTLY VACCINATED."
Above from Johns Hopkins Oncology 6/12.
Not included above is the fact that the pertussis vaccine has been shown in baboons to create a carrier state. Vaccinated baboons who showed no signs of illness were able to infect nonvaccinated baboons with pertussis.
"Animals that received an acellular pertussis vaccine had the bacteria in their airways for up to six weeks and were able to spread the infection to unvaccinated animals...This research suggests that although individuals immunized with an acellular pertussis vaccine may be protected from disease, they may still become infected with the bacteria without always getting sick and are able to spread infection to others, including young infants who are susceptible to pertussis disease."
Posted by: Linda1 | April 01, 2015 at 07:01 PM
Wow, Fiona. Did you know that about 1/3 of the people in the world are carriers of staph aureus and another 1/3 are carriers of the dreaded N. Meningitidis bacteria? Sometimes these carriers don't shed and sometimes they do. There are coronaviruses, enteroviruses adenoviruses, and rhinoviruses, and influenza-like illnesses in abundance in every school where there are children. No school could ever be considered a germ free environment, no matter what the vaccination rate is. Did you know that even if a child doesn't receive a particular vaccine, it doesn't mean that child is either infected with that particular pathogen or infectious with that particular pathogen? That you think a child's failure to receive a vaccine equates to their being super infectious with a particular pathogen, signifies your indoctrination by the vaccine industry. Your thought process is not based in scientific reality. If your child cannot be around other kids, due to the risk others pose of infecting your child, your child is the one who should remain at home-- not a bunch of healthy but unvaccinated kids.
Posted by: For Fiona | April 01, 2015 at 05:36 PM
Dr. Wakefield's study was accurate. He did not set out to look at autism caused by the MMR, it was a finding which surprised them and they only recommended that it be further studied. But the experience of many thousands of parents has further confirmed the fact that vaccines cause autism, now in one in 36 American children (U. of Minnesota 2013), up from three in 10,000 (N.Dakota 1987, see "Autism not really on the rise?), a hundred-fold increase in thirty years. Vaccines often cause vaccine encephalitis and brain damage, of which autism is the most common example.
Those who have immunocompromised children are certainly in a difficult situation, and I would recommend visiting alternative heath practitioners: a chiropractor, naturopath, and/or homeopath to learn ways to improve your child's immune functioning. It is cruel and unreasonable to demand that other parents damage or kill our children on the off-chance that it might benefit yours. And, I might point out, there are thousands of infectious pathogens in the environment for which there are no vaccines, and vaccine protection, if present at all, and it often isn't, especially for the flu and pertussis vaccines, eventually wears off. The live virus vaccines shed and exposure to recently-vaccinated people can pose a serious risk for your child.
The long and the short of it is, I choose what I think is the safer course for my child and you do the same for yours. I will not further damage my daughter, autistic by vaccine, no matter how much it might benefit your son.
Posted by: cia parker | April 01, 2015 at 03:03 PM
My child is immunocompromised and attends New York City Public Schools... Your children are a danger to his health. The Department of Health and the Department of Education are 100% correct and Constitutionally right. Your sons being in my child's school is a detriment to their health, and their unvaccinated state is a detriment to public health as a whole.
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Have you not realized that Andrew Wakefield's study was a fraud and that the decrease in vaccinations throughout the country has not decreased the incidence of Autism-Spectrum Disorders? Do your homework and stop bothering the Department of Education, who would be doing more productive things if they didn't have to try to convince you to be good people.
Posted by: Fiona | April 01, 2015 at 01:04 PM
Beginning the fight to get our kiddo into school even though we refuse to give any more vaccines after our 5 year old was diagnosed with Aspergers. I cannot believe that some people on here pump their kids full of these drugs knowing full well they dont work! Veronica wants us to keep our kids home so that her kids dont get sick from our unvaccinated kids. I just want to know if you make a practice of injecting your kid with anything the govt throws your way with your fingers crossed that A) it works and your kid doesnt get deadly chicken pox and 2) that in the process of fending of the great poxs outbreak of 2011 your kid doesnt become non-verbal, mental retarded, or even die. I cant rationalize that even a .00001 percent chance of something bad happening to your kid is more scary than chicken pox!
Posted by: amy | May 16, 2011 at 06:41 PM
So, any ideas how an 18 year old going to college in Brooklyn, NY deals with this vaccination exemption issue. In Virginia, where he thought about going, he had to do the exemption himself because of his age.
What do we do?
Posted by: Sarah | April 25, 2010 at 12:42 PM
Carolyn M, thanks for your response.
I have lived in the US, actually my son with autism was born in NY; he’s a recipient of the vaccinate with Hep B at birth program. (the program where we live now is to give the Hep B vaccine in grade 5 which we declined with no issues for our youngest son.) Whilst in NY, my husband had excellent insurance through his company and I was happy with the healthcare we were given and the timeliness in which it was provided. We moved to Canada not too long after my son was born so I have no idea what sort of insurance we would have had had we stayed in NY and what it would have covered in terms of autism. However based on what my husband’s boss in the US pays for his insurance premium, I don’t think we could have managed to have me stay at home and help recover my child without a second salary to cover the premium.
Regardless, the point of my previous point was to address the misconception that people have that because the healthcare is universal the government will have greater control over your body. If that were truly the case then it seems to me that Canada should be the country that has the requirements/mandates for school entry vaccination and not the US under its private health care. My perspective is that the pharma companies in the US are heavily influencing government policy. I am sure it happens here in Canada but not to the same degree as it is the government that has to pick up the tab. As an example: when I first moved to NY I paid the same amount for just one month of birth control that I paid for a whole year of birth control in Canada. Pharmas are not allowed direct to consumer advertising here which is what jacks up the price of prescriptions.
As far as therapies such as ABA, sadly it is a provincial and not a federal matter and varies from province to province. The province I live in covers $60,000 a year for ABA up to age 18. The Yukon covers therapy up to 19 years of age with no maximum. Families are also eligible for funds to cover respite, transportation for appointments, babysitting for siblings, summer camps etc. I believe the last contract we had was for around $12,000 to cover those things for the year(I'm sure parents whose children are more severe receive a bigger fund). We also receive a monthly disability cheque that is based on income and is to acknowledge the added expense of raising a child with a disability.
Posted by: samaxtics | February 11, 2009 at 04:54 PM
Since immunized children can also become sick and spread disease, then your immunized kids are a risk to my kids, too.
All kids are a risk to all other kids, although some kids are certainly more of a risk.
But since we rarely check to see which kids develop antibodies to their vaccines, and which ones don't, there's really no way to tell.
Your kids may be carrying any number of diseases without showing symptoms and they could hurt my kids, who apparently can't be vaccinated safely.
Maybe you should keep your kids at home, instead, if you want their world to be utterly without risk.
Posted by: Terri Lewis | February 11, 2009 at 04:23 PM
I am glad that you appear to be satisfied with your healthcare system. I live in the US, and I have been subject to government-provided healthcare. That experience has shown me that government-provided healthcare is not desirable for children who have autism. Under that system, my daughter's GI issues were very inadequately addressed (gross understatement); she was not diagnosed with autism until she was nearly 4.5 years old, and a doctor pushed an unnecessary Risperdal prescription on me for my daughter (which I did not fill). That system paid for very little of her autism-related treatment. (At one point it did partially reimburse for ABA, but then they changed the requirements to mandate that the therapist performing the ABA must be BCBA - eliminating the possibility of any reimbursement for us.) It was only when we obtained non-government provided health insurance that we started getting any significant reimbursement. By the way, the government-provided healthcare system I have been speaking of is very pro-vaccine.
We would be much better off with insurance mandates (properly worded) that with universal healthcare.
Posted by: Carolyn M | February 11, 2009 at 02:16 PM
Jeoff, I live in Canada which as you may know has universal healthcare. Vaccination is not required for school entry. (There are I think 3 provinces that require the DTaP and possibly the MMR however religious, philosophical and medical exemptions are available.) No system is perfect however I would rather have healthcare policy dictated to me by someone who is elected to their position as opposed to someone who is not elected and whose concern is just for their shareholders. Seriously think about that for a minute. The government here is responsible for the healthcare of its citizens and yet does not mandate/require vaccination.
Veronica, two things. If your children are vaccinated why the concern? Herd immunity is to protect those that cannot be vaccinated. Oh, like some of our children. Second, are you privy to the vaccination status of all the adults working in your child’s school? Surely you don’t believe that it is only children that carry and spread disease?
Posted by: samaxtics | February 11, 2009 at 01:29 PM
Yes. There are still choices. And when your choices place my kids at risk in the public schools, I will continue to applaud the schools for denying your un-immunized children to attend.
Posted by: Veronica | February 11, 2009 at 12:58 PM
So, how many of you are excited about nationalizing healthcare so our government can be responsible for all of your health care decisions? I am not. (even though i think that vaccinating my children is the right thing to do).
Posted by: jeoff | February 11, 2009 at 02:26 AM
Parents with typically developing children have NO IDEA what it's like, parents of special needs children can easily end up experiencing a 'Viet Nam' instead of school years, as can the child. Somehow, it's kept an 'invisible' plague in the media and on television, rarely do we even hear when schools kill disabled children. Even a bus ride can mean death for your child, it's happened many times over on 'the little bus'.
The IDEA Act works about as well as Civil Rights did in the 50's.
Children with special needs are absolutely the new victims of 'Jim Crowe' for disability rights, both in the school system and in the adult world. All those laws, what a crock. Laws that aren't practiced are useless, a bunch of hot air.
I had to 'catch' my school, locking my autistic child in a closet with a bucket for a bathroom so long he'd fall asleep. By fifth grade, he was finally able to talk well enough to explain this to me. I, assuming he was explaining something wrong, asked the teacher who admitted it almost as if bragging. Whirling in disbelief, I yelled that she was a detriment to my child and I didn't want her near him. An hour later, I was in JAIL, arrested for FELONY disorderly conduct...mind you, it was after school, no kids were there, I yelled one sentence, didn't even so much as swear. My 9 year old bailed me out with her savings. Though it never went to court (dropped by the DA, then dropped by my city who was unaware I had even been in jail!). The school's legal team took me to court, I was lawyerless, lost so was prohibited from being on school grounds or yelling at the teacher but not from talking to her - though I had removed my child at that point. The school then began to pursue truancy against me with the state and various other tactics to show what angels they were and what a bad mom I was.
The agencies I contacted are too numerous to mention, the Office of Civil Rights in Chicago did investigate and dismiss the case finding no wrong on the part of school, the Coalition for Advocacy said there was 'no case' since restraint and seclusion is not illegal in my state when a school does it!!, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Civil Rights can you believe gave me the run around telling me to contact the agencies that had already dismissed my child being locked up and given a bucket for a bathroom on a daily basis. Lawyers wanted more in three hours than we make in a week - what about our other kids?
So yes, I did remove my son from school the day after my arrest, he has not been back since. The teacher is still there...last parent I spoke to arrived there to find her autistic child bleeding and shirtless, she was in the 'time out room' tearing at her own chest gasping for air as she was secluded without her inhaler for asthma. Last child I saw her with was being carried down the hallway, feet off the ground by 2 aides 'Jesus Christ' style begging for help cause it hurt, later an ambulance removed him from school., etc...
Like I said, parents unfamiliar with special education would absolutely not believe what we go through. If I'd read what I'm writing 10 years ago, I'd have ranted, "No way would I let school or anyone get away with that". Let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing you can do against the government, school is government. Cops and judges automatically presume them innocent, maybe if your last name is Hilton you can make a change. I've devoted years to this, and not made one iota of change to benefit future children and parents.
It is truly Alice in Wonderland, trying to make sense of the power schools yield to break the law. If even a 13 year old babysitter did what my school did, they'd be in an adult prison. The surreal part, somehow school staff became the 'victims' and parents the villains. In all the back and forth of the fight, the main point - the children, are completely lost in the scuffle.
So frustrating, so life draining and joy depleting. I feel for you, I really do.
I'm happy to say now, my child is in a school that nourishes both his academic and spiritual gains - not religious, spiritual. They treat him like a boy, as he now puts it, "I don't get locked up like a zoo animal no more, I like that".
Posted by: Milivica Caly | February 10, 2009 at 07:10 PM
You obviously are extremely ignorant as the definition of ignorance is "the condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed". I don't know if you are uneducated, but you are clearly UNAWARE AND UNINFORMED. I am a registered nurse, have studied vaccines for 10 years, and I would challenge you to go to your nearest walk-in clinic and ask to receive each and every vaccination that you think small children should be receiving. Then, please do let us know the status of your health AFTER receiving these vaccines. I would guess that you have NO CLUE what you are spouting off.
Posted by: Colleen, RN, pissed off mother of 4 | February 10, 2009 at 10:24 AM
The Palma's were interviewed for this story in World Net Daily.
Posted by: Recent publicity for the witch hunt | February 09, 2009 at 03:09 PM
My question is, at the beginning of the interrogation does the state/board/attorney qualify the criteria used for determining 'bona fide' religious beliefs? If there is no criteria - how can a decision be objective? Also, Chrisitanity is a religion, Catholocism is denomonation of Christianity. Do all the folks involved in the decision have a 'complete' understanding of Christianity or better yet understand your personal walk with Christ. Have they read the entire Bible? Have they had all the training/study/experience that you've had? It seems to me that somewhere in there is discrimination.
Posted by: K Garba | February 08, 2009 at 12:38 AM
I took them to court and won! That lawyer sounds exactly like the asshole that tried to question my beliefs. Perhaps they went to law school together. It was definitely a witch hunt!
I love your line...Is this America? Or, ‘Alice in Wonderland’- where up is down, black is white and the Mad Hatter is judging the sincerity of my soul...excellent!
Posted by: Maja Leibovitz | February 06, 2009 at 07:11 PM
Does anyone know of a TV journalist that is friend of non-vaccination? It would be interesting to see what happens if these clips are shown to a wide audience and this lawer sees his "work" shown to everyone...
It may get some changes in NY started...
Posted by: Anna Ceberio | February 06, 2009 at 05:01 PM
Wow. I'm very happy to be living in Colorado where we have Philo, Regligious and Medical. And I have never been questioned and if I were to be questioned I would spend all my time pulling out research, books and trying to convince rude lawyer that he shouldn't be vaccinating his kids either.............of course, unless there is a vaccine for jerkiness, which would presuppose that the vaccines actually work - which they do not.
You go girl.
This is incredible to me and I will never even visit New York if this is what it's like.
Posted by: Mary | February 02, 2009 at 12:01 PM
I feel for what you went through.
With Head Start in NY, being located in one of the elem. schools, we were told to fill out a questionaire asking who our doctor and dentist was, and other intrusive questions about our lifestsyle-all of which had nothing to do with our religious beliefs. We didn't end up filling it out or sending our child. We figured if we had to fight, we'd wait until school-age. I spent the next year learning everything I could and when Kinder came, I had all my ducks in a row.
We had no problems when Kindergarten came. I had (I say had because we moved to PA) an approved religous exemption in NY, but their stipulation was that I had to resubmit one every year, just like a medical exemption.
I do have to wonder what it is about this particular school district that you refer to. Could it be all about the money?
Posted by: Mom in NY | February 02, 2009 at 09:52 AM
Who else should we not waste our education dollars on? Down syndrome, paraplegics, quadraplegics? Tell use who you think is worthy of your tax dollars to receive a proper education? Did you receive an education? If you did it obviously didn't work so maybe we shouldn't waste any money on your offspring because they obviously have bad genes!
Posted by: Christine | February 02, 2009 at 09:24 AM
Supremacy Claus, your words are empty with no relation to reality.
I'm not going to spend half an hour writing a comprehensive response, but I will address one thing you said, which was: "The biggest cause of the autism increase is the availability of services to rich, entitled parents." This oft repeated BS was addressed in a recent MIND Institute study published in the January 2009 issue of the journal Epidemiology. The study concluded that that the seven- to eight-fold increase in the number of children born in California with autism since 1990 cannot be explained by either changes in how the condition is diagnosed or counted. The increase is real.
Posted by: Twyla | February 01, 2009 at 12:52 PM
Supremacy Claus..what the hell are you talking about? That drivel you spewed was about the most idiotic nonsense I've ever read.
Posted by: Julie Swenson | February 01, 2009 at 12:28 PM
Supremacy claus -
Your post displays a complete ignorance of autism and an appalling lack of empathy for those afflicted with this disorder. I have never met a parent of a child with autism who fit your description of "rich and entitled." I certainly do not fit that description.
Regarding your statement: "Spend $40,000 on an autistic, get nothing back." Is it then your opinion that no child with autism deserves an education, and that they should just be warehoused somewhere? It would appear so, judging by what you posted - which I found to be very inaccurate and bigoted.
Posted by: Carolyn M | February 01, 2009 at 12:23 PM
LOL, PLT, I agree.
What they hey? My child is not spreading germs, I am not rich or entitled, and I am completely not understadning where you are coming from. My children attend a great school in our area. That does not mean that my son receives good therapy while he is there. My NT daughter does receive an impressive education, my son, on the other hand, is blamed for his lacking ability with speech (apraxia). The school is failing him, and I absolutley do not feel any need to sue over that. I compensate for their short-comings.
My children are both more in danger from the vaccinted children as they receive and release the live viruses from their vaccines. We are a responsible family that has chosen not to complete a vaccine schedule due to our son'r reaction. With that, we understand that we have limitations for safety. I do not travel around the world trying to see if they will catch anything, or bring anything back to their friends.
I do not see why you are referring to people like me as "bullies". I am so NOT a bully. I am vocal, and this statment by you,..."The biggest cause of the autism increase is the availability of services to rich, entitled parents who have had their lawyers intimidate school districts. They cannot believe their child has delays, and must scapegoat someone.".......makes you lacking desperately in intelligence and due diligence in the realm of educating yourself on the topic you are trying to talk about. That does not make me a bully, it makes you one.
Posted by: kathleen | February 01, 2009 at 10:39 AM
You said: :This can’t happen in America." Oh yes it can and it is. In small doses but it is happening in other states. Our government (state, federal and local) is determined to control our lives. It is the one big reason I am against a nationalized health care system. To begin, the federal government would have control of it. Let's be honest anything the federal government has touched in recent decades has had the effect of the midas touch in reverse. What it touches turns to $hit. I have issues with the government telling me what I can or cannot do with my body or the bodies of my children.
We (and I mean ALL citizens of this once great country) must stand up and say enough is enough and follow through with our words with ANY means that is necessary.
Another revolution is coming people. Only this one will be the citizens against the government. It's time to stand and fight!
Posted by: Deborah A Delp (www.debstake.wordpress.com) | February 01, 2009 at 10:03 AM
If the disease ridden child spreads his germs to others, the rich entitled parents should be sued for irresponsible negligence. But, also sue any lawyer, any doctor, any administrator who has allowed that misguided irresponsibility.
The biggest cause of the autism increase is the availability of services to rich, entitled parents who have had their lawyers intimidate school districts. They cannot believe their child has delays, and must scapegoat someone.
All school boards have a moral obligation to fight these bullies to the very end. They should also always countersue the plaintiff, the child, and the lawyer. If the judge rules in their favor, try to sue the judge.
Spend $40,000 on an autistic, get nothing back. Spend $40,000 on private school tuition for four deprived students, and get $tens of millions back in enhanced earnings, and tax payments.
Posted by: Supremacy Claus | February 01, 2009 at 12:02 AM
I also live on Long Island and I had to file an exemption for my daughter this year. She was entering 6th grade and they wanted her to get a DTaP shot. It would have been her 6th dose! I knew about Rita Palma and my stomach was in knots for 30 days. My exemption went through without any question. I was so relieved because it paved the way for my 2 1/2 year old who has not had any vaccinations. I think it really comes down to the attorney and maybe the principal in Mrs. Palma's school district trying to make a name for themselves. They want to be the heroes protecting the children from us crazy non-vaccinators! It really is unbelievable that this can happen in this country.
Posted by: Christine | January 31, 2009 at 07:44 PM
i am an attorney and parent of an autistic child in ny - we have hired a lawyer to handle all of our "meetings" with the board of ed and cant stress how important it is to have one at these meetings. Also consider a freedom of information request to the board to get results of the attorney, distict, etc on how many times they have approved and disproved this request. It will be diffacult they will say its privilaged but if the childs name is blacked out its not privlaged.
Posted by: albert | January 31, 2009 at 07:30 PM
I have sat across from many school district attorneys in my line of work and I can tell you that every one of them are disgusting human beings who should rot in hell for what they put already stressed and devastated parents through. They are nothing but hired guns to try to save the school district money as well as enable thoroughly disgusting school districts, such as the one mentioned here, to become bigger bullies. There truly should be a special place in hell for them.
Posted by: PLT | January 31, 2009 at 04:40 PM
Rita, you and your husband are SAINTS! You have to be to sit through that absolute ignorance. I don't know how you restrained yourself. I would have either been in tears or contemplating physical harm. What a pompous ass that guy is. He treated you guys like common criminals. This is soooo wrong on so many levels.
Good luck to you and your family. Keep us posted. I have sent your story to others to show what sort of demons we are up against.
Posted by: rileysmom | January 31, 2009 at 12:56 PM
I am also one of those that could not stand to watch more than about 2 minutes of this. It is truly corruption. How could this happen? How can these people be stopped?
Posted by: kim | January 31, 2009 at 11:56 AM
This is beyond disturbing! I cannot believe how our rights as parents are being stripped away. It scares the hell out of me. I applaud your courage for fighting for your rights and for sharing your video with us.
Posted by: Kristin | January 31, 2009 at 11:46 AM
Only an American will watch this and feel the civil rights being stripped away. That's freedom ringing. Where in the constitution does it say that our religious freedoms can be questioned by a state-funded lawyer? Oh i see, they can enforce medical mandates on our bodies, but they will not stand for teaching children manners and values within the curriculum,,, that's not their job. How hot was the burning at the stake part...you seem to have lived to tell the tale. Guess paying that lawyer ate into budget funds for the woodpile...whew you lucked out there...Did you reschedule it? They have to give you 30 days notice by the way.
Posted by: Gale P. | January 31, 2009 at 10:38 AM
I would personal tell them just like Jim Carey told Congress in June - Roll up your selves an let me put all of these toxicans into everyone of you in the room!
Scared to Vaccinate, now? You should be!
Posted by: Amy | January 31, 2009 at 09:07 AM
what a bottom-feeder of an attorney. Good grief.
Not long ago on here someone sort of jumped me thinking that what I said was an attack on attorneys. Well, I was very sorry for being taken that way...and certainly had no intent of offending anyone. My reply seemed to make it worse...but if there is a hint of disgust when refrencing lawyers...THIS is the type of person I would have been referring to, LOL.
Posted by: kathleen | January 31, 2009 at 08:41 AM
Jack, I'm almost positive the ACLU has taken a case as of last fall for a NY couple that had their religious exemption denied.
I spent a lot of time talking to and writing our local reps...some are in complete favor of amending the religious exemption law so parents cannot be questioned. But not soon enough, I, like another poster, finally left NY for a philo state so I would never have to face the NY 'religion court' - and I was in NYC where Julia Sykes dragged everyone who applied for an exemption into a 'hearing'. NY is one of the worst 'nanny-states' in the union.
Posted by: Sorsha | January 31, 2009 at 08:18 AM
This is horrifying.
The moment someone rejected a medical exemption, I would be getting a lawyer to draw up a document indicating that they understood they were rejecting a doctors advice on my childs' medical condition,and that they agreed to be held financially liable for any damages caused to my child from vaccines.I'd be requiring all involved officials,the principal, and anyone on the "vaccine board" to sign a personal agreement to be held liable.At the point where they refused, it shows they are obviously not sincere about believing the vaccine is risk free for my child.And I would be informing them that with or without the signature, they would still be held legally liable.
If they are going to make a choice to risk a childs' life against medical advice, lets make sure there are some obvious disadvantages for them in making that choice.
Wonderful idea to videotape it. At the point where someone is scheduling a meeting to test religious beliefs,lawyer up! And if possible bring a priest. Personally I'd consider starting the meeting with a prayer session.If the line between church and state just got blurred, then lets make that point. If there were any objections, I would be pointing out that since God is the issue here, then acknowledging his presence is more than appropriate.
Am so horrified at this. And have so much respect for your courage, tenacity and bravery.
Posted by: hera | January 31, 2009 at 06:34 AM
Please tell me why this pustual is still
walking God's earth and not at his approriate
location; at the gates of hell!!!! This is unreal
and violation of religious rights!!! How is this
Jerk off even a lawyer when he is clearly
Violating religious rights??? It's unreal to me
that you would truly have to sit through this
Canada looks better every day!
Hope this guy sleeps with one eye open!
He is the Antichrist!
Thank you for enlightening us....and having
thick skin tongi through this....
Posted by: Evelyn | January 31, 2009 at 05:24 AM
This is very upsetting and frustrating. This lawyer treats this caring family like they are criminals! He needs a few vaccines up where the sun don't shine!
I am from Portland, Oregon and recently read that CDC was to investigate why many children are not being vaccinated down in Ashland, Oregon.
Article on it here:
The meeting was held on Jan 10th 2009. I'm not sure how it turned out but I don't blame them for their decisions. I wished we had done the same instead of getting harassed and/or else talk into the crammed 35 vaccines by the time our twins hit 48 months old. Now we are paying for it dearly.
And reading what people are going through with the now mandated Flu Vax in NJ, I worry that more US states will end up like what this family dealt with in NY.
What happens on the east coast, eventually makes it to the west coast :(
Posted by: CamJam | January 31, 2009 at 01:01 AM
Unreal isn't it? This is just one of the reasons why Autism United is meeting in Albany Saturday (Clarion Hotel 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM). We need exactly what Bob Moffit is talking about - true informed consent.
Posted by: Louis Conte | January 30, 2009 at 10:46 PM
Next installment: Rita finds the head of a dead horse in her bed.
The PharMafia is in rare form in NY. Glad I moved.
Posted by: Mom4truth | January 30, 2009 at 10:33 PM
Well, I just sent the ACLU a letter referencing this article and sharing a few of my opinions, but I think that's a hopeless avenue. I'm looked at their website before and it seems to mention every possible situation but this one. So, makes me think they've made a decision not to be involved. Maybe if our kids were in Gitmo the ACLU would stand up for them and prevent them from being poisioned. Apparently, here, they don't care too much.
Posted by: Jack | January 30, 2009 at 08:39 PM
Thanks, cr! Good (and effing scary) to know.
Posted by: Julie Swenson | January 30, 2009 at 08:15 PM
Julie: pretty much every state has an immnization registry, to which doctors must report each vaccination given to each child. Some states do allow parents to opt-put, but as of last year, NY no longer allows an opt-out. Schools do have access to these registries because apparently some on somewhere decided that this isn't a HIPPA violation. Land of the free, folks.
Posted by: cr | January 30, 2009 at 07:50 PM
I have a question...I am NOT advocating doing it because it would considered (I am guessing) falsifying a state doc (though, if it's not notarized, does it count) and plus we shouldn’t have to lie anyway to get what is legally ours. This is me not knowing about legal issues....BUT how would they be able to tell whether or not your child was actually vaccinated if you lied about it. Again, NOT advocating lying but seriously, can the school board actually invade your child's medical records and verify that they are? Are vaccine records considered public record? Just curious ;) Can someone a lot smarter than me please answer :) Thanks in advance!
Posted by: Julie Swenson | January 30, 2009 at 07:25 PM
Holy shit..McCarthyism, anyone!? Are vaccines the new "red commie"? I guess so..yikes.
Posted by: Julie Swenson | January 30, 2009 at 06:46 PM
Jack asked "Where in the hell is the ACLU in all of this?" Good question! Let's all contact the ACLU!
Posted by: Twyla | January 30, 2009 at 06:44 PM
"This may be easy for me to say because I certainly have not been in this situation and I am not familiar with the specifics of NY law but can't parents refuse to participate in these meetings/inquisitions? Does the law actually state that the school district has the authority to apply a sincerity test to validate your waiver? And couldn't one file a law suit against the school for violating your right to waiver and denying your child access to education?
Pamela: unfortunately, the law states that our religious exemption must be sincere and genuinely religious in nature. If your exemption letter shows even the slightest hint of sounding moral, scientific or philoophical in nauture, the s/he is within her/his rights to question your sincerity. If after meeting with you and giving you the opportunity to further clarify your beliefs, s/he denies the exemption, then you can file an appeal and be subject to the type of meeting Ms.Palma was. You don't HAVE to appear... but the likelihood of the appeal turing in your favor is slim if you don't.
Posted by: cr | January 30, 2009 at 06:37 PM
The main problem in NY isn't so much the laws themselves (as bad as they are) but that it is up to each principal's duscretion to determine whether or not the religious exemption is "genuine and sincere". I live in the district that neigbors Ms.Palma's but had no problems whatsoever with exemptions; I attended school vaccine-free and now my oldest child does, too. Is it because my exemption was more "sincere"? No, its because the principal I dealt with didn't have an agenda.
Posted by: cr | January 30, 2009 at 06:29 PM
Posted by: Jen Smeltzer | January 30, 2009 at 06:21 PM
Most days I envy Americans who live in a country where the heart of recovery resides, with better access to autism services, including DAN! Doctors. Thank you for helping me count my blessings. Today, I am thankful to live in Canada where vaccines are not mandatory. I am so sorry that some parents are tortured in this way.
Posted by: Mary | January 30, 2009 at 05:21 PM
I could not bear to watch more than the first part of the first video. I felt myself becoming so angry that I had to walk away from it.
This may be easy for me to say because I certainly have not been in this situation and I am not familiar with the specifics of NY law but can't parents refuse to participate in these meetings/inquisitions? Does the law actually state that the school district has the authority to apply a sincerity test to validate your waiver? And couldn't one file a law suit against the school for violating your right to waiver and denying your child access to education?
Seems to me we need to get on the offensive...would a joint law suit, including all of the parents who have been put through this, against this school district be possible? I have so many questions about how this could possibly be happening.
The point of a "personal" religious belief is that it need not be justified to anyone other than the person who holds the belief.
Posted by: Pamela | January 30, 2009 at 04:52 PM
I just wonder if I am still residing on planet earth or if somehow these videos are proof I have flipped into an alternate universe? If this is the best lawyering the school district can provide, it's no surprise they are so inept at abiding by the laws. I am sorry you had to endure such a degrading personal violation with this questioning, but I thank you. These videos are eye opening to many people, myself included.
Posted by: Jill Rubolino | January 30, 2009 at 04:31 PM
Where in the hell is the ACLU in all of this?
Posted by: Jack | January 30, 2009 at 04:18 PM
I hope this helps further motivate those parents who feel secure in their rights, and think that something like this couldn't happen to them.
The AAP has stated that they would like to see all exemption laws repealed. And to close the "loophole" for homeschoolers.
This is a travesty, to say the least.
We all need to actively defend our rights on this.
What good is free speech, if the government can forcefully inject us with biologicals of unknown origin against our will?
Posted by: Sylvia | January 30, 2009 at 04:17 PM
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Exploring legal liability for parents of unvaccinated children
Posted by: Kevin Barry | January 30, 2009 at 03:14 PM
I would have brought in my own lawyer. You never go to a gunfight with a knife.
Posted by: Tim Booton | January 30, 2009 at 02:42 PM
So here's this particular logic -
God allowed man to make bombs, so lets bomb everyone.
God allowed man to make guns, so let's shoot everyone.
God allowed man to make missiles so let's deploy them on everyone.
Posted by: Andthismanisquestioningreligiousbeliefs? | January 30, 2009 at 02:36 PM
God may have given "man" the wherewithall to create vaccines...but...it was "man"... not God... that put thimerosal in them to make them "cheaper" to distribute and store.
In any event, these are powerful videos of the cruel, bullying tactics, that a small cadre of bureaucratic thugs in the NYS school system routinely employ to deny parents their "lawful right to a religious exemption" from vaccinating their child.
These videos are clear evidence that present "medical and religious" exemptions in NYS offer scant protection for parents seeking only to exercise their "parental right of informed consent".
Therefore, it is time that NYS legislators were confronted with a chance to vote for a "philosophical exemption" law that, once and for all, reaffirms a parent's right to "informed consent" on the subject of vaccines.
Posted by: Bob Moffitt | January 30, 2009 at 02:15 PM
Whew! Ok, the brain is working a little better now, after being absolutely outraged.
After thinking about it I think the response should have been: What right does the State/School Board/ANYONE have to question my/our religious beliefs? I think that should have been the response to all of this idiots questions. The answer is, they don't have that right -- period, end of story (or at least, it should be). I wouldn't have answered any of his questions.
Posted by: ObjectiveAutismDad | January 30, 2009 at 02:12 PM
ARRRGGGHHH! What is this??? Nazi Germany? What busy is it of the State of New York what people believe??? This is supposed to be a free country!
This is quite possibly the most infuriating and repugnant thing I have ever seen!
How do we put pressure on this butt-head to cease and desist???
Posted by: ObjectiveAutismDad | January 30, 2009 at 02:05 PM
Total waste of money, sad for the tax payers of N.Y. It could be better spent on educating the kids instead of harrassing these wonderful parents.
Posted by: Lynn | January 30, 2009 at 02:04 PM
I can't believe this is even legal...I wouldn't have been surprised if someone was in the background tended a bonfire upon which they would throw you all after you failed...
If god gave us the intelligence to make guns to protect ourselves with, why shouldn't everyone be permitted to carry one, everyday and everywhere...how does that guy sleep at night? And I guess a SPED teacher was laid off to pay for his time...
Posted by: Cathy | January 30, 2009 at 01:58 PM
"This disgusts and terrifies me! I have a partially-vaccinated 3 year old that will soon be entering the school system (in MA)... is this what I have to be prepared for??"
It is my understanding that NY is notoriously obnoxious in their treatment of parents who choose not to vaccinate. I have heard horror stories about NY from many people - and this post backs that up. So, hopefully you won't run into this type of nonsense...
Posted by: Sue M. | January 30, 2009 at 01:24 PM
I used to live in new York and have always missed it. This is the first time I'm glad I don't and am in SC where exemptions are a "piece of cake." I felt sick to my stomach the first time I saw this.
Posted by: Maurine Meleck | January 30, 2009 at 01:20 PM
All power to the Palmas for fighting for all of us. The erosion of basic freedoms demonstrated here could be applied to anything-- any fundamental right. What's next?
State medicine or the medical state is by definition a pseudo-religion, the same status it had in Nazi Germany, where the German people were seen as a "body"-- owned by the state-- that had a duty to remain "healthy". Actual religion is seen as a competing "faith" to the state sanctioned faith in vaccines and pharmaceutical products. I'm sure the rates of psychoactive drugging of children in this school and schools with similarly aggressive stances are sky high. It would be interesting to find how many times this school has reported parents to child services for non-compliance with the school's dictates on vaccinating or drugging.
Cohen doesn't seem like an ideologue, just an attack dog who knows which side his bread is buttered on. He's a kapo and has clearly played on the side of wrong so often that he's piled up a mountain of misdeeds too high to ever cross back over to be redeemed in any human sense-- so he's going for broke. It seems like he's literally (really) auditioning for a job as an attorney for Lilly or Merck.
How are his fees paid? Who makes the decision to alot funds to a school attorney who's obviously wracking up considerable billable hours harassing so many parents? What would also be interesting to know is whether there are any particular pharmaceutical ties among school board members, this attorney himself (he's just so damned motivated) or anyone within the NY DOE.
Posted by: Gatogorra | January 30, 2009 at 12:05 PM
Even God warned in the bible to not mix animal and human blood? And, didn't he also say, that Children are a Heritidge to the lord? And what about fetal tissues in vaccines, does that not alarm some churches? I feel like I live in the Matrix...
Posted by: Kathy Blanco | January 30, 2009 at 12:02 PM
This is outrageous and unAmerican. Rita, do you know who we can email both at the school and in the NYS Education Department? Drops of water on a stone -- but for what it's worth we could all express our outrage.
Posted by: Twyla | January 30, 2009 at 11:43 AM
This disgusts and terrifies me! I have a partially-vaccinated 3 year old that will soon be entering the school system (in MA)... is this what I have to be prepared for??
Posted by: Susan | January 30, 2009 at 11:31 AM
What is the official record of Mr. Cohen having denied religious exemptions for parents of various religious affiliations? In other words, has he in some cases allowed more Church of Scientology affiliated exemptions, more Jewish affiliated exemptions, more Protestant affiliated exemptions, etc., than parents who are Catholics or any other religious affiliation? Does Cohen have a personal bias when it comes to stated organized religions? I’m not trying to make this into a religious dogma debate, but I think it would be interesting to know what this bureaucratic school attorney’s record is in regard to parents’ stated religion. Although, parents shouldn’t even be required to declare a stated organized religion.
This was so disgusting to watch. How much money is the school district wasting on this jerk? I’m so thankful that my state has medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions for vaccines. Religious and philosophical exemptions simply require a parent’s signature and that’s it - DONE. If it wasn’t that easy I would be homeschooling my children in a heartbeat. No per pupil funds would be going to my children’s school district because of my children’s enrollment to continue to pay for unethical attorneys like Mr. Cohen. These videos should be shown on the local news to expose school bureaucrats like Cohen.
Posted by: My belief in God is none of anyone's damn business | January 30, 2009 at 11:28 AM
This man's attitude is appauling. How dare he use his position to degrade and belittle parents whose sole interest is the health and welfare of their children.
Although I grew up in the NE, we are now in the bible belt where it has been as easy as mailing a letter to get a religious exemption.
After we obtained the results of our youngest son's titers - which showed he did not need any of his required shots for school - no one has mentioned vaccinations to me.
I just can't get over the audacity.
What a p***k!
Posted by: Tracy | January 30, 2009 at 11:21 AM
Thank you Rita for enduring this cross examination and showing us all the extent that the State of New York is willing to go to in order to enforce their vaccine mandate.
Are we to believe that state officials have been empowered to conduct religious tests? They have more than crossed the line separating Church and State.
During the English Reformation, Queen Elizabeth I said, "I have no desire to make windows into men's souls." It seems the State of New York does.
There is no justification for reviving the Inquisition in New York.
Posted by: Anne Dachel | January 30, 2009 at 11:15 AM
Who says God gave us vaccines? Isn't that an assumption here? What happened to the fear of "playing God" by tampering with the forces of Mother Nature? Seems to me, that having been given "materials" to create vaccines is the same as being given "materials" to create alot of other things, not all of which have been attributed to the Glory of God. I don't think traditional vaccines were God given, otherwise, they would exist in nature. Now, homeopathic vaccines, I can say are probably God given.
Posted by: amy o | January 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM
What a ridiculous circus! That school attorney is a pompous idiot. The state of NY ought to be ashamed of itself. What country do we live in anyway?
This really reinforces the notion that the less detail you put in your exemption, the better.
Posted by: Julia C. | January 30, 2009 at 10:09 AM
That was just terrifying to read. How can that be in America?
And to think I left NY and moved back south because I didn't like the way the townhome board tried to dictate how I built my deck. My God....
Posted by: Jack | January 30, 2009 at 09:44 AM
I am speechless. How is this legal? I thought the constitution protected religious freedoms. What kind of government would condone the orthodox practice of allowing the mohel to place his mouth on the penis of an infant but they won't allow a family a religious exemption because there may not be a 'sincere' belief in god.
Posted by: FaliciaNJ | January 30, 2009 at 09:28 AM
Yes, this man is an idiot. He could not even recognize the basis of his own questions.
Another response to him would be:
"In your hypothesis, since God gave man the ability to create, man can create things that do good and things that do harm. Nuclear technology would be one example of how humans can use their abilities to use God's creation for good or harm. It is my religious belief that vaccines represent a harmful use of God's creation and the ability gifted to us."
Good luck and thank you for these videos.
And P.S.: It is almost always those who interrupt the most who complain the loudest if they even think they have been interrupted.
Posted by: David Taylor | January 30, 2009 at 09:12 AM
What happened to the basic founding principle of this country, the freedom of religion? How about the Patient's Bill of Rights - to choose what is or is not done to one's own body? And what of the separation of church and state? To deny these rights is communism and goes against every principle our founding fathers fought for. This is blatant religious persecution. Fightening. Truly frightening.
Posted by: Jenn | January 30, 2009 at 08:56 AM
Health care choice should be a basic freedom.
As a Christian this video just freaked me out.
I wondered when this family would be thrown to the lions.
As a Catholic there are many well accepted reasons (aborted fetal cell use) to oppose vaccinating along with Vatican letters to support it.
It was greatly disturbing to see this attorney make a mockery of this mother's faith.
I'm so glad in our state the waiver process is very simple, you make and notarize your own form, there are no questions asked.
As it should be, the State and Church are separate remember?
Posted by: KarenAtlanta | January 30, 2009 at 08:02 AM