Parents ‘flabbergasted’ Miami school is forbidding teachers to get vaccines

Private school threatened faculty’s jobs if they get shots

Centner Academy in Miami made international headlines by telling its teachers they could lose their jobs if they get a COVID-19 vaccine. Local 10 News got reaction from parents of students.

MIAMI – Some parents of students at Centner Academy say they are alarmed after the private school’s co-founder sent an email Monday outlining the school’s policy against COVID-19 vaccines.

“Flabbergasted. I was wondering if it was even illegal,” said one parent, who didn’t want to be identified.

Centner Academy has campuses in Miami’s Design District and Edgewater. School co-founder Leila Centner wrote to parents, without citing any scientific evidence, saying “vaccinated persons may be transmitting something from their bodies that could harm others who aren’t vaccinated — impacting fertility and the development of children.”

An earlier notice to staff and faculty told them to wait until after the school year ends if they want to get a vaccine, and that those who got shots wouldn’t be able to return to school “until clinical trials [on the vaccines] are complete (if a position is still available at that time).”

That made international news.

“It’s more than dangerous,” a parent said. “I am super scared that my kids are going to be brainwashed because they are so young.”

Some parents say they previously complained when the school was not enforcing mask use indoors.

Leila Centner has been openly critical of vaccines on her social media, but parents say that trying to stop teachers from getting a vaccine goes too far.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, agrees, calling the school’s policy “completely irresponsible.”

“It is spreading rumors about something that is completely unfounded. There is absolutely no basis in fact in any of the allegations that are made against the vaccine there,” Marty added.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence, some share Centner’s concerns. Security working at the preschool Tuesday morning arranged for a Local 10 News crew to interview some of these parents.

“There have been thousands of reports of adverse reactions in those who have not received the jab, from being around those who have,” said a parent named Jennifer.

Centner sent a statement to Local 10 which read in part: “We are not 100% sure the COVID injections are safe and there are too many unknown variables for us to feel comfortable at this current time.”

Public school teachers are saying the policy punishes educators trying to protect themselves and their families.

“It is infringing upon these educators’ rights,” said Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade. “These educators have the right to get vaccinated if they choose to.”

Some parents say they’ve already paid tuition in full, at around $25,000 a year.

“Stuck. Everyone is stuck,” a parent said. “No one can remove their kids and now we have another 7 and a half weeks to go.”

Parents also showed Local 10 News a message they received Tuesday asking them to drive up to pick up their children rather than walk up. The parents who were on foot and tried to stop to speak with reporters were asked by security to move along.

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.