The DOE said fewer than 100 employees submitted the fake vaccination cards, while a union official estimated it to be around 70.
"I'm really disappointed to learn that there were fake vaccination cards," Mayor Eric Adams said. "Not only is it illegal, it undermines our entire trust. My understanding it is being investigated, and we are going to see the outcome of the investigation."
The United Federation of Teachers is preparing to challenge the move, saying some teachers claim they were wrongly accused and that placing them on unpaid leave violated "the basic notion of due process."
"It is wholly improper for the DOE to unilaterally remove UFT members from the payroll based on mere conjecture that vaccination documentation is fraudulent," a union official wrote in a letter to the city.
The union said it considering a lawsuit to halt the punishments.
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"We are reviewing appropriate legal action to potentially challenge the DOE's unilateral action in removing these employees from payroll," a spokesperson said.
Law enforcement agencies are investigation.
"Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against COVID-19 -- universal adult vaccination," a DOE spokespersons aid. "We immediately moved to put these employees - fewer than 100 - on leave without pay."
Mayor Adams said he is not considering lifting the vaccine mandate for municipal employees, and the city health commissioner says faking vaccine status is dangerous for everyone.
"It undermines trust in one another," Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. "It undermines trust in public health. It undermines trust in government. We're obviously very disappointed that that's happened, and there's a legal process that we hope will play out."
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