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High court won’t hear New York City teacher vaccine dispute

Unofficial teachers protested in Brooklyn in November

April 18, 2022 Associated Press and Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Supreme Court is declining to wade into a lawsuit filed by four New York City public school employees over a policy that they be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Lower courts had previously allowed the policy to go into effect while litigation continued, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor had also rejected an emergency request that the policy be put on hold. The justices said Monday they wouldn’t get involved in the dispute. As is typical the justices did not say anything in rejecting the case, and it was one of more than 100 the court turned away.

New York City began requiring public school employees to be vaccinated in the fall of 2021. Courts had declined to bar the city from enforcing their policy, which applies to some 150,000 employees and has religious and medical exemptions.

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Three of the teachers involved in the case have been fired and a fourth has taken extended leave.

In November, the teachers and other school personnel, who are opposed to mandatory vaccination, protested in Downtown Brooklyn in front of 65 Court St., one of the Department of Education’s office buildings. The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the city’s teachers’ union, later put out a statement that said the protest was not an official one by the UFT.

Waving signs and chanting “My body, my choice,” the anti-mandatory vaccination teachers and school staff members protested the city’s COVID vaccine mandate. 

Among the signs protesters carried was one depicting an injection needle in a circle with a line going through it, one displaying the name “BIDEN” with a hammer-and-sickle instead of the letter “E,” and one with the words “Stop the New World Order.”

At the same time, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said 97 percent of teachers had been vaccinated.

“If they are not vaccinated … we’ll move substitutes into place – who are vaccinated obviously – and are ready and willing, and really excited to take on these roles and people who want to become teachers in our school system permanently,” then-Mayor Bill de Blasio told Brian Lehrer on WNYC radio.

According to the Real Clear Politics website, some of the teachers taking part in the Brooklyn protest chanted “Let us teach,” “The system is corrupt,” “We will not comply,” “Shame on you,” and more colorfully, “F— Joe Biden and de Blasio.” 

After the protest, the crowd went over the Brooklyn Bridge, shutting down the Manhattan-bound lane.

New York City was the first city to require all school staff be vaccinated, though the city’s mandate allowed for medical and religious exemptions. School employees who do not have an approved exemption and have not submitted proof of vaccination were removed by the DOE from payroll and placed automatically on unpaid leave starting in November.


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