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State threatens Miami private school that told vaccinated students to stay home

Centner Academy risks loss of funding over controversial policy

(Marta Lavandier, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

MIAMI – Florida’s education department said it will investigate a Miami private school over its controversial policy telling parents to keep their children home for 30 days after they get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The state also threatened to pull funding if Centner Academy’s policies don’t meet the law.

“Recently it has come to our attention that your schools may employ attendance policies which require parents of recently vaccinated students to quarantine their children for unreasonable, unnecessary and unduly burdensome amount of time before returning for in-person instruction,” the Florida Department of Education’s letter to the school said Thursday.

“Should our investigation reveal that your schools’ policies fail to comport with these lawful rights and obligations, understand that the action that follows — up to and including revocation of your schools’ scholarship eligibility and funding — will be both swift and decisive,” the letter added.

It set a deadline for 5 p.m. Friday for the school to respond and confirm that its policies are within the law.

The private school with campuses in the Design District and Edgewater made headlines in the spring for a controversial email warning staff against getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

As for the vaccine quarantine imposed on students, school co-founder David Centner sent an email to Local 10 News saying their recent letter sent to families was grounded in their priorities to “students’ well-being and their sense of safety within our educational environment.” The email also said that the school’s policy is based on their interpretation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine testing protocols and “numerous anecdotal cases.”

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University, said the school’s policy is not based on factual science.

“That is not written by anyone who has any understanding of the science, it’s just that simple. It’s pure fiction,” Marty said. “It’s very destructive because it misleads people, and because it is coming out of an educational institution, it’s even more misleading, because there are people who are just not well versed in science and they can easily, unfortunately, be misled.”

The CDC has debunked claims that COVID-19 vaccines can shed or release their components, explaining, “Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus.”

“It is a fact, it is not a matter of opinion,” Marty added. “It is a matter of fact, there is no virus in a Messenger RNA vaccine. Period.”

Local 10 News had an appointment scheduled to speak with the school’s owner and co-founder Leila Centner on Monday afternoon. She did not show up.

Read the letter below:

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.