Bill could require Texas schools to be more transparent about the number of unvaccinated students

ODESSA -- A bill filed by Texas State Senator Kel Seliger would require schools to identify the number of students without up-to-date vaccinations, and the number of students who have been admitted with pending immunization documents.

School districts in West Texas said they support transparency of immunization records, but it is another thing they will have to assign a school or district employee to do.

"I think the public needs to know who is immunized and who is not. So, they can make some informed decisions about where there students are and who there students are around," Kermit ISD Superintendent Denise Shetter said. "However, while we support the idea of transparency we're a little more concerned about the implementation."

"Who is going to be the one who provides it? If a parent, community member goes into a school and requests it," Ector County ISD Spokesperson Mike Adkins said. "If you have been there on a daily basis, they usually stay pretty busy. Who is going to be the one who stops what they are doing that day, to go and get on the computer and run the report?"

Adkins added there is a lag in information with shot records. This is because when new students are admitted into an Ector County ISD school, they have a 30-day window to turn in their immunization records.

Shetter said legislative bills like this are especially difficult for smaller school districts to keep up with.

"Many times these mandates are unfunded and they fall into the responsibility of the public schools," Shetter said. "Then by the end of the legislative session we have 34 single, unfunded mandates that each legislature think are important. But when you look at it and aggregate it - it can be overwhelming for a school district to maintain."

Seliger filed he same bill during the last legislative session in 2017, but it died in committee before receiving a hearing or vote.

According to Texas Legislative Online, the bill was read for the first time on Thursday and was referred to the Health and Human Services Commission.