Centner Academy Won't Employ COVID-19 Vaccinated Employees, Citing Debunked Theory
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The owners of an expensive Miami private school don't want their teachers and employees getting the COVID-19 vaccine, citing a debunked anti-vaccination theory.
CBS News obtained a copy of an email sent by the Centner Academy to its parents on Monday that reads, in part:
"Until further notice, we ask any employee who has not yet taken the experimental COVID-19 injection, to wait until the end of the school year. We also recommended that all faculty and staff hold off on taking the injection until there is further research available on whether this experimental drug is impacting unvaccinated individuals. It is our policy, to the extent possible, not to employ anyone who has taken the experimental COVID-19 injection until further information is known."
The school, which charges almost $30,000 a year per student, is run by Leila and David Centner. It's a fairly new school, which just opened in September of 2020 and was featured in CBS4 Miami Proud segment in October of 2020.
The email appears to be tying employment to the vaccine, threatening legal action would be taken if staff lied about getting the vaccine.
Which made CBS4's Keith Jones wonder, is this even legal?
"This is a private school. It's not a public school. So generally a private employer in Florida can fire someone for any reason or no reason at all," said employment lawyer Carter Sox with Gallup Auerbach.
Sox said firing someone for getting the vaccine is legal in this case. But there appears to be some recourse if fired personnel want to fight it.
"If a teacher says they have a medical condition, and it discriminates against their right to get the vaccine," Sox said.
As the email began to make nationwide headlines, the United Teachers of Dade released a statement, which read, in part:
"As shamefully seen by the actions of the illegally run and uncertified Centner Academy, these schools not only teach misinformation and peddle propaganda, they punish teachers who try to protect themselves and their families. We are horrified by the unsafe conditions and labor violations that colleagues at schools such as this one have to endure due to lack of union representation and contract rights."
CBS4 News has been told one teacher has already resigned, but it's not clear if it was in direct result of this policy.
In the meantime, teachers are concerned and so are medical experts, like FIU's infectious disease specialist Dr. Aileen Marty.
Dr. Marty said the Centners are promoting a debunked theory that states people who are vaccinated can spread a different type of disease to individuals standing near them.
"It shows me that the author has a very primitive understanding of what a vaccine is and really no understanding of the scientific process," she said.
The email goes on to list "many unknown variables" for their decision and states:
"Tens of thousands of women all over the world have recently been reporting adverse reproductive issues from being in close proximity with those who have received any one of the COVID-19 injections."
They also claim, "No one knows exactly what may be causing these irregularities, but it appears that those who have received the injections may be transmitting something from their bodies to those with whom they come in contact."
Their email cites no scientific evidence or authority for this.
Dr. Marty told CBS4 that this is heartbreaking, and she is devastated because she says there is no basis in science for any of the misinformation that the school is putting out. She also noted that it's particularly "egregious," that you have a school designed to educate kids promoting this sort of false and misleading information about the vaccine.
CBS4 News reached out requesting an interview with someone from the school, but they simply sent an email reiterating what was in the email sent to the parents, which stated:
"We're doing what we think is in the best interest of the children because children shouldn't be around teachers who are vaccinated."
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