According to the New York Times, the decision was made after law enforcement reached out to the New York Department of Education about the alleged faked vaccine cards.
“Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against COVID-19 – universal adult vaccination," Nathaniel Styer, a spokesman for the Education Department, told NYT.
The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District and law enforcement are investigating the matter, although it is not clear with which department of law enforcement the commissioner will be working.
It is also unclear how law enforcement determined that these teachers had submitted fake vaccine proofs, and law enforcement would not release the evidence. The United Federation of Teachers said that the allegations are "unproven” and noted that eliminating teachers’ pay before showing proof is "a clear violation of the basic notion of due process."
The teachers’ union said that some educators received the unpaid leave in error, as they had submitted authentic proof of vaccination.
“It is wholly improper for the D.O.E. to unilaterally remove U.F.T. members from the payroll based on mere conjecture that vaccination documentation is fraudulent,” Beth A. Norton, a lawyer for the union, wrote in a letter to the department.
"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 Education Department said in a statement. "We immediately moved to put these employees — fewer than 100 — on leave without pay."
New Covid cases in New York City have increased 55% over the past two weeks, thanks in large part to the Omicron subvariant BA.2. According to NYT’s tracker, hospitalizations for Covid have increased 10% in the same time period.
It is a felony in New York to create a fake vaccine card or submit false information about vaccination status. It is also against federal law to do so.