NEW YORK (AP) — Several dozen New York City teachers and other school employees who officials said submitted fraudulent proof of COVID-19 vaccination were placed on leave as of Monday.
The United Federation of Teachers is challenging the disciplinary action, which it says violates its collective bargaining agreement. The employees in question were placed on leave after investigators determined that they had provided false vaccine cards, a spokesperson for the city Department of Education said.
“Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against COVID-19 — universal adult vaccination,” the spokesperson, Nathaniel Styer, said in a statement. “We immediately moved to put these employees — fewer than 100 — on leave without pay.”
A COVID-19 vaccination mandate took effect for New York City school employees last fall and was later expanded to include all city employees.
The school vaccination rule was a key component of the city’s policy of opening all classrooms to in-person learning this academic year, rather than offering a remote option as some school districts did.
The UFT said in a notice of claim filed Friday that about 82 of its members — including teachers, school psychologists and others — were notified last week that they were being placed on unpaid leave because they had provided false proof of vaccination.
The union said in the notice, a first step toward filing a lawsuit, that the employees should not have been disciplined without a due process hearing and that the action violates the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union.
The union called the suspension of its members without pay “arbitrary, capricious” and “an abuse of discretion.”
Department of Education officials did not describe the evidence that led authorities to determine that some employees had falsified their vaccine cards, but said the matter was under investigation.
The workers who were placed on leave are a tiny fraction of the public school system’s approximately 142,000 employees.