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Parent of autistic student speaks out against special ed assistant who objected to getting vaccine shot

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Jourdan Moore's son Jaxson has chronic lung disease and is particularly susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.

In an interview with conservative Portland radio host Lars Larson on Sept. 23, special education assistant Lauren Pefferle said her being required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 was not in the best interest of a student she worked directly with at Mabel Rush Elementary School. She later compared vaccine mandates to racial segregation and was fired by the Newberg school after showing up to work in Blackface and referring to herself Rosa Parks.

Now, the parent of the Mabel Rush student who worked with Pefferle is speaking out. Jourdan Moore's son Jaxson is a kindergartner with autism and Moore said Pefferle blatantly ignored her son's unique medical risks by pushing back against a requirement to get vaccinated.Pefferle

Jaxson's medical condition puts him at a higher risk of negative health consequences if he contracts COVID-19.

"I am the mother of 'the student' that Lauren Pefferle, the Blackface aide, refers to in her Lars Larson interview," Moore said in a prepared statement. "She was my son's aide and I am here to fact check her story. Lauren bashes our Mabel Rush principal and a teacher, claiming that what they did 'wasn't in the best interest of the student.' Had she done her job and read his individualized health plan (IHP), she would know that couldn't be further from the truth. Those who know his IHP leaped into action to help protect one of their most vulnerable students.

"My son has a detailed IEP and IHP for his intensive medical and developmental needs. I started creating this plan with the school back in May and it took all summer to finalize the complexities. He has chronic lung disease and is susceptible to increased negative health consequences related to COVID-19. He has been intubated on a ventilator before. He once spent 98 days in intensive care and came home on supplemental oxygen. Additionally, he is developmentally disabled, and he is unable to properly social distance, wear a mask and wash his hands."

Pefferle worked directly with Moore's son for the first 10 days of his kindergarten experience, spending the afternoons with him and later handing him off to his parents once the school day concluded. Moore said her interactions with Pefferle were minimal and that none of the red flags about her conduct showed up in that short time.

Pefferle told Larson that her reason for showing up to work in Blackface was to protest a requirement that she be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to keep working with students. Moore said Pefferle's defiance of a health measure intended to protect her son put him at an even greater health risk, but she also made an effort to thank Mabel Rush administrators and other teachers at the school for their efforts to protect him.

"Lauren's Blackface protest was an inappropriate over-reaction to a half-day of job duty adjustments in the best interests of a medically complex student," Moore said. "Comparing that to Rosa Parks is abhorrent. I applaud principal Tim Lauer and the Mabel Rush teacher who were involved in this incident. They are … abundantly kind and selfless educators who are doing their best for our students in the midst of the global pandemic and the recent racist incidents. Lauren's actions are not justified. The school absolutely made the best call and made my son's health and safety a priority."

Pefferle was fired one week after she showed up to work in Blackface, according to a staff member at Mabel Rush who spoke to this newspaper under the condition of anonymity. Pefferle herself could not be reached for comment for this story as district officials said they are unable to release her contact information.

"She's going around saying what (Mabel Rush staff) did wasn't in the best interest of the student, and what they did was segregation of her, which is just ridiculous," Moore said. "Educators have been through a lot lately with the pandemic and all these racist incidents, and I have had huge hesitations bringing my kids to school through all this. But I've been blown away in a positive way with how the Mabel Rush principal and special education team have handled this."

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