What should I do?
What can I do?
by Michael Kane
NYC is the Capitol of the world. Whatever happens here, spreads. More school districts across New York and America are starting to adopt NYC’s forced COVID testing regime and people are asking us – what should we do? what can we do? Here is what we recommend based on our experience:
(1) Find out all of the specific rules in your school district
The standard regime now is testing a random sample of 20% of the total school population – adults and students. In NYC it is mandatory and parents who don’t consent have their child placed exclusively onto remote learning. 12,000 students have suffered this fate already. NYC teachers have been threatened with being placed on unpaid leave if they don’t consent to random in-school testing. Many suburban school districts on Long Island are making the testing voluntary and opt-in. You need to know precisely what your district is proposing. Also find out if your school district will accept test results submitted from your own doctor. In NYC, they are no longer accepting such results (which is ridiculous and illogical).
(2) Find out all the vendors and agencies that are involved
The New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) is huge and has three vendors involved in COVID testing, two of which are laboratories. The laboratories are Fulgent Genetics and BioReference Laboratories. The third contractor is SOMOS which plays a role in collecting some of the specimens for COVID testing, but not all.
Stay focused on the laboratories.
(3) Request to see all the contracts and agreements
School districts are public entities funded by taxpayer dollars, so all of their contracts are public documents. There is no justification for keeping such contracts secret but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Request them from your school district and from any other related agency. For example in NYC the in-school COVID testing program involves the NYC DOE, NYC Health + Hospitals and NYC Department of Health. A law firm we are informally working with put in freedom of information requests to all of these agencies. The NYC DOE released two agreements, one of which had an agreement from NYC H+H as an attachment. NYC DOH responded immediately that they did not have any such contracts. NYC H+H has not complied with the freedom of information request, and we have been able to determine that means there are at least two secret contracts (perhaps more) governing the in-school COVID testing in NYC right now. We are currently planning the best way forward to have these contracts disclosed as soon as possible.
(4) Submit a freedom of information request
Any documents that are not provided, you should write a freedom of information request to obtain. It is not hard to do, but requires time and persistence. It is helpful to have a law firm do it for you or with you, as it adds some weight to the claim, but you do not need a law firm to do this. The ideal is to have a law firm file the request who has experience in the area.
Most likely if you file this request it will be under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) in your specific state. Federal claims are under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You will likely be placing a FOIL request in your state, not FOIA. For information on how to file such a request, go to the following link: https://www.rcfp.org/open-government-guide/
(5) Search for any conflicts of interest
When Fulgent Genetics was announced as one of the labs being used for NYC in-school COVID testing, it took me just a few minutes of searching to find a 2017 SEC filing which stated Fulgent owned a “proprietary library of genetic information.” This led me to question whether my specimen which contained my DNA was protected, or if Fulgent would be allowed to catalogue, and profit from, my DNA. Neither my union nor my employer (NYC DOE) would answer that question. That forced me and a group of teachers (and parents) to retain a lawyer who eventually sued the DOE and was able to obtain a stipulation in court ensuring our specimens were completely protected and would be destroyed.
(6) Follow the outcomes of the lawsuits we are supporting
BUENO vs NYC DOE is sponsored by TEACHERS FOR CHOICE. Two NYC DOE employees placed on unpaid leave for refusing to consent to mandatory in-school COVID testing are suing their employer demanding to be reinstated into their positions along with damages and all lost income. We will have more info on this case in May of 2021.
KANE vs. NYC DOE was filed in New York State Supreme Court and challenged NYC’s in-school COVID testing as a potential violation of privacy rights based on what is and is not done with the collected specimen. We won a court-ordered stipulation that ensures all specimens taken in-school will be destroyed after a positive or negative COVID result is obtained. You can read about how that case came to an end and download the court-ordered stipulation at the following link:
AVILES vs. DE BLASIO was filed in federal court and is a much broader challenge to in-school COVID testing claiming such a regime is illegal, immoral and unscientific. That case has been argued before a judge but has not yet been ruled upon. Stay tuned to our website for updates on that case.