TEACHER FOR CHOICE followers know that Philadelphia public school teacher Neal Follman was fired for refusing to sign the in-school COVID testing consent form at his job. Below we are publishing Follman’s epic 16-page rebuttal to Philadelphia’s Labor Relations Department on why he disagrees with his termination.
This is the longest report we have ever published, but Follman’s dissection of the Philadelphia in-school COVID consent form is critical and, quite frankly, an embarrassement to the Philadelphia Board of Ed. Don’t let the silly-photo of Follman above fool you; he’s brilliant! -mk
Rebuttal to SEH-204 Conference Summary
Issued by Sheila Wallin, June 11, 2021
Sheila Wallin, Labor Relations, The School District of Philadelphia
Suite No. 202
440 North Broad Street
Philadelphia PA 19130
Re: Rebuttal to SEH-204 Conference Summary Issued by Sheila Wallin, June 11, 2021
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is in response and in rebuttal to the EH 204 Second level SEH-204 “Investigatory Conference Report” issued to me, Neal Follman, by Sheila Wallin of the Office of Labor Relations. I disagree with the report.
I was terminated from my teaching position on May 7, 2021 because I was alarmed by the consent form which I was required to sign to get the Covid test, and the history of the companies who were hired by the School District of Philadelphia (henceforth termed “the District”) to supply the necessary testing equipment, and conduct the testing. Therefore, I requested to have my Covid test done through my doctor’s office so that I would have the most accurate test available, done by a reliable and approved medical professional. I never refused to get a Covid test when I returned to work and I believe that my compromise was reasonable and far more scientifically sound than the District’s methods. Ronak Chokshi refused to allow me to have the medical procedure performed by my personal healthcare provider, and instead terminated me from my teaching position.
I would like to return to my position and begin teaching students in a humane environment that makes an effort to prevent increased disruptions to student achievement. I want to explain who I am and why I am hesitant to be tested by the company that the District hired to do the testing, as well as the concerns I have about the companies that sell their testing equipment. Because of the changes in the local, state, and federal government recommendations, I believe that the issue of testing is currently a moot point, and at the very least should be a moot point by the beginning of this school year. However, I know that these testing companies were given massive contracts nationwide, and Dr. Hite’s announcement last week confirmed my suspicions that the District will continue employing these unreliable and flawed tests, despite the ample evidence that they are ineffective (Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Informs Public About Possible Accuracy Concerns with Abbott ID NOW Point-of-Care Test).
I have been a teacher in the School District of Philadelphia for eleven and a half years. During this time I have consistently been commended as one of the best teachers that my students have had. Students have frequently said my class has not only prepared them for the rigor of college, but also has helped them gain mental stability and self-confidence. I have tried my best as an educator to nurture each student’s soul and encourage each of them to become a person they can be proud of. Despite the many challenges that existed within the previous system, I loved my job and I felt as if I was making a positive difference in this corner of the world.
I was one of the few teachers in my school who was willing to serve our students “in- person,” starting in September of 2020. It is my belief that our students need the social and emotional development that comes from meaningful personal interaction, and I believe that teachers should have been considered “frontline” or “essential” workers because it is our duty to provide the next generation with skills and experiences to empower them in the future. While the CDC and AFT worked to keep our schools closed, I was reading and listening to the vast majority of my students as they confessed to being demoralized, depressed, and unmotivated. When I attempted to address their plight, I was told there was nothing that could be done. The constant propagandizing of fear by the CDC and AFT, and their focus on preserving their careers while advancing the agenda of their well endowed influencers that manipulate educational and social policy, overshadowed the needs of our students.
Although my stance was unpopular, I openly advocated opening our buildings, for families that were interested, to the other staff members of Constitution High School. When high-school teachers were told- on a whim- that all staff needed to return to the building and teach their classes virtually, I willingly complied, and returned to the building for nine days. I believed that my presence would be beneficial for students as they transitioned back to some semblance of normalcy, until I saw the protocols and procedures being put in place to usher in the District’s version of “the new normal”. After reading the consent forms that staff and students would be forced to sign, investigating the companies that received contracts, and learning about the changes being implemented for “health and safety”; I realized that compliance with these initiatives would be even more harmful to the 30/110 students who had initially opted to participate in “hybrid learning”. My reasons for this belief are below.
First and foremost, as I have reiterated multiple times, I did not and have not refused to have a COVID test conducted. I did want this medical procedure to be completed by my own doctor, even if I had to pay for it out of my own pocket. This option was deemed unacceptable, which is just one of the many questionable elements of this new policy. If the goal was to ensure student and staff safety, why were teachers given this test at 2:00 pm on a Friday, as they were leaving the building? This means that potentially infected students and staff would spend the whole week together, only to realize they were potentially exposed to a potential positive case at the end of the week. How does this ensure safety? How are these methods scientifically sound? And I was terminated for questioning this policy!
In Ms. Wallin’s Memorandum she stated, “Your actions for the purpose of this summary are failing to follow a directive regarding Covid-19 issued as a requirement for employment by the School District of Philadelphia.” At no point in my first eleven years of employment did I sign any document that acknowledged following these directives was a condition of employment. If it had been, then I never would have sought employment with this institution to begin with. Not only is this an invasion of personal privacy, it is an added disruption to the educational routine of our children. The claims that these directives were put in place to “promote everyone’s safety” will be addressed once I highlight the concerns I had over signing DocsHealth and Impact Health consent forms.
Dentrust was founded by Dr. Lawrence Caplin, DMD CCHP, in 1990 to provide on-location dental services for correctional facilities and juvenile detention centers. DocsHealth, a subsidiary of Dentrust, profited from a business that is a blatant affront to the District’s updated focus on social justice and equality. Also important to note is that Dentrust’s former lobbyist, Ernest Baynard, was on the board of Security Identity Biometrics Association, a non-profit focused on, “furthering the adoption of secure identity and biometric technologies through forward-thinking thought leadership, and well developed government relations and communications.” This is an important fact to address because of the subsequent potential for a nefarious collection and storage of DNA and data. Furthermore, the COVID tests used are only approved under Emergency Use Authorization, which alone should negate the District’s mandate. I also did not feel comfortable giving consent to the following policies:
1) “We will share this information with a diagnostics lab that will test your sample (in case of a saliva-based PCR Test), with Insurance (for billing and payment purposes, at no cost to you) and with our call center that will respond to your questions. Your information and test results will also be shared with the School District of Philadelphia (“SDP”), and with your Department of Public Health.” Why should a private organization, that employs non-medical professionals, have the right to collect and share my or my students’ health records? I also researched the Department of Public Health, and its involvement in the lives of Philadelphia’s children is deeply troubling, which I will address in greater detail later.
2) “We will not sell, trade or disclose in any manner any of your Personal Data and Healthcare Information, except as otherwise provided under this Privacy Statement. We may share your Personal Data and Information in compliance with the law, to comply with legal orders and government directives, or as needed to support auditing, compliance, to combat fraud or criminal activity, and to protect our rights or those of our affiliates, in response to subpoenas, court orders, or similar legal processes, including to law enforcement agencies, regulators, and courts.” While it is reassuring to know that my students’ and my information might not be sold, why would this information be shared with law enforcement agencies and courts to begin with? Why would these medical records be used in court? How does this align with the District’s focus on social justice and equality? How could anyone with a basic knowledge of history feel comfortable entrusting these institutions with their Personal Data? This is a dangerous agreement to concede to, and giving such institutions greater control over citizens, particularly those that are disadvantaged, would enable an increased level of oppression for the average citizen. The companies involved in this testing procedure are legally protected from any adverse repercussions that harm their subjects, yet there seems to be no consideration when it comes to the protection of the individuals being subjected to this flawed and non-FDA approved method of testing. If the companies administering this flawed test are protected, but the population we are serving is not, then this arouses the question: who are the “leaders” of the District serving?
3) “You have agreed, by coming to School, to participate in weekly testing designed to identify whether you have been infected by the novel coronavirus and have developed COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Your participation in this process is in accordance with your agreement to do so with the SDP. You hereby give consent to participate in weekly testing that shall begin from the week that you return to School and shall continue until June 14, 2021. Testing is conducted in accordance with the Emergency Use Authorization of the respective test and the results of the test may or may not be accurate.” How does reporting for work translate to agreement, when I was never forced to accept this condition during my first eleven years of employment? How is it deemed an agreement when my only options were compliance or termination? That is not an agreement, that is an ultimatum, and it uses people’s education or careers as tools of coercion. How can I be terminated for not consenting to a test that is under EUA, AND OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGES ITS INACCURACY? Seriously, how can this be considered professional by any means, let alone scientifically based? It is far more akin to gaslighting and is antithetical to professionalism and science, unless these definitions have also been changed without my knowing. Sadly, at this point, such alterations would be unsurprising. I’ve witnessed many maintain employment despite continual incompetence and unsatisfactory performance. This year, the District literally paid hundreds (if not thousands) of teachers that refused to enter their buildings, at the detriment of the city’s children. I’ve also seen the District’s system of problematic-employee shuffling and information suppression first hand, but to terminate a capable and effective teacher over such a ridiculous policy is a new low. A brief glance at my resume should enlighten anyone in a “leadership” role that I have seen the depths of the District’s failings first hand.
4) “Rapid Test: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card is an Antigen Lateral Flow immunoassay for the qualitative detection of the nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in direct nasal swabs, without viral transport media. An Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) was issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) on the BinaxNOW test on Aug 26, 2020.
● Thermo Fisher TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Assay is a multiplex real-time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS‑CoV‑2. An EUA was first issued on this by the FDA on March 13, 2020.
● The Cue Health Monitoring System is an automated assay that utilizes isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology for the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 viral nucleic acids. An EUA was first issued on this by the FDA on June 10, 2020.” Once again, it is illegal to mandate any medical procedure that is authorized under Emergency Use Authorization, so this rebuttal should never have had to have been written.
- “I wish to take part in today’s health screening program, which is being conducted by Impact Health Biometric Testing, Inc., a CLIA-waived laboratory (“Impact Health”).” What if I do not wish to participate? How can I say that I want to take part in something that I don’t? Are you familiar with the Nuremberg Trials? If not, I highly suggest you investigate this piece of history. Once again, not allowing me to refuse consent to this policy is using my career and salary as coercion. Any student of history should know what horrors can happen when mobs of people follow orders blindly, or comply with demands they don’t agree with.
- “I understand that, in addition to information I will provide on a questionnaire, this health screening program will require me to provide personal information and that I will be subjected to a clinical test that is intended to diagnose COVID-19.” It is intended to diagnose, but also acknowledges that it is unreliable in a subsequent paragraph! “I understand that the results of this health screening are for information purposes only and do not constitute the diagnosis of COVID-19 or any other disease, illness or health condition, or the absence of COVID-19 or any other disease, illness or health condition, which diagnosis can only be made by a qualified physician or other licensed healthcare provider. I also understand that I should not use the results of this health screening program as a substitute for seeking further information, diagnosis or treatment from or by my physician or other qualified healthcare provider.” If the tests are incapable of determining whether or not I have Covid-19, and only a medical provider can determine my diagnosis, why was I not allowed to use a test from my doctor? The District is responsible for the education of over a hundred thousand children, yet it mandates stipulations that are observably ridiculous when analyzed with a basic level of critical thinking. It is made even more alarming when one takes into account the many different academic programs that I have seen poorly implemented over my years, which have yet to make any significant gains in improving literacy or student achievement. Those companies are still awarded huge contracts despite repeated failure, but this topic will have to be addressed another day. In summation, well connected companies that provide ineffective products maintain their contracts, but the questioning of openly flawed practices results in termination. This double standard led me to question who the District’s “leaders” are actually serving.
- “I understand that the results of the test will be analyzed, interpreted and provided to me by Impact Health or a clinical laboratory (“Lab”), together with a copy of the Fact Sheet for Patients required by the FDA. I understand that Impact Health will disclose my COVID-19 laboratory results to [The School District of Philadelphia], (or any of its subsidiaries, collectively (“School District”) in connection with the School District’s ongoing initiatives to protect the health and safety of its employees and other individuals working onsite.” The “fact” sheet provided once again stated that I was taking this “test” freely, so how am I being terminated for refusing to do so? Have we changed the definition of what it means to be free? Lastly, what subsidiaries will my health records be shared with? The possible implications of this will be addressed further when I address the secondary consent form.
- “I agree that the transmission and receipt of information during or after this screening program, including any communication via the Internet or e-mail, does not constitute or create a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional relationship between me and Impact Health or any other entity involved in this screening program.” If Impact Health and “other entities” are not doctors or healthcare professionals, why are they administering a service that claims to be directed at ensuring the health of staff and students? Once again, how can an institution that claims to educate the youth of our city continue the maintenance of such ambiguous and liability free policies? This language is fused with doublespeak, which should alert any inquisitive person that the ultimate goal of such language is deception. The District’s claim of being committed to transparency and accountability is not solely drenched in irony, it is downright insulting to anyone that has been employed by it for an extended period of time.
- “I, my heirs, and personal representatives, waive and release the Lab and the other providers participating with the Lab in connection with this program, and their subsidiaries, affiliates and parent corporations and their respective officers, directors, agents or employees, from any and all claims, demands or causes of action for damages or injuries that I may have or later acquire against Impact Health or such other entities resulting from or arising out of my participation in this health screening program, including my presence at the testing site, the results of the screening or any services or communications provided in connection with this health screening program.” So I cannot hold “the Lab,” or any of its “affiliates” responsible for any harm that comes from this procedure, that is only approved under an EUA, and is not being administered by medical professionals? And this is permissible even though the information provided acknowledges, “I understand that the test requires inserting one or more swabs in my nasal cavity(ies) which may result in some discomfort.” Are these tests safe and effective? If so, why would the company’s lawyers implant a stipulation that protects them from being held liable for a product that may “damage or injure” a subject immediately or in the future? And this is something that we are demanding children and their family’s to consent to, knowing that many are desperate to return to in person learning! Once again I will restate that this is blatant coercion. The “leaders” of the District are holding the basic right of education hostage, and the reward, at best, is inconclusive in terms of ensuring safety. While figureheads hide behind screens during School Board and community meetings, I once again must ask; who are they serving?
- “I understand that my test results, the information provided on this form and my responses to the questionnaire (“my Personal Information”) will only be used in a manner consistent with the Authorization for Use and Disclosure of Protected Health Information. We will not sell, trade or disclose in any manner any of your personal data and Healthcare Information, except as otherwise provided under this Privacy Statement. We may share your personal data and information in compliance with the law, to comply with legal orders and government directives, or as needed to support auditing, compliance, to combat fraud or criminal activity, and to protect our rights or those of our affiliates, in response to subpoenas, court orders, or similar legal processes, including to law enforcement agencies, regulators, and courts.“ Once again, why are my records being shared with law enforcement and courts? Is there no end to the District’s hypocrisy? Hanging signs and flouting glittering generalities does not constitute a commitment to ending the systemic obstacles engineered to sustain the generational poverty that inflicts many families we are serving. On the contrary, these tactics are used by charlatans and swindlers. So once again I must ask, who are the District’s “leaders” serving.
- “I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS INFORMED CONSENT FORM AND FULLY UNDERSTAND AND AGREE WITH ITS CONTENTS. I EXPRESSLY CONSENT TO THE USE OF ELECTRONIC CLICK ASSENT AND UNDERSTAND THAT BY CLICKING “I AGREE,” I HAVE AFFIRMATIVELY EXECUTED THIS INFORMED CONSENT FORM AS IF I HAD PROVIDED AN ORIGINAL SIGNATURE ON THIS DOCUMENT.” How can I consent or agree to all of these contents, when these policies are polluted by a litany of discrepancies? Why weren’t the families of the children we are serving given any right to determine the conditions of THEIR child’s academic environments? Why were choices not offered? What happened to differentiated learning? From where I stand, it is apparent our educational “leaders” have abandoned the failing principles they have promoted for over a century. Which makes me ask the question once again; who are the leaders of this failed system actually serving?
Part 2 (AUTHORIZATION FOR USE AND DISCLOSURE OF PROTECTED HEALTH INFORMATION)
- “I understand that Impact Health generates personal health information (“PHI”) that will be disclosed under this Authorization and that such disclosure is conditioned upon my execution of this Authorization. I understand that the purpose of creating the previously identified PHI is related to COVID-19 tests or immunizations and that disclosure may be required to designated entities described below (the “Designated Entities”). I further understand that if I do not agree to this Authorization, I may not be able to receive a COVID-19 test or immunization at this time.” First off, why is my personal health information, or PHI, being disclosed with anyone other than my own doctor? Why does PHI also relate to immunizations, are these two “medical” treatments connected? If I consent to this form, does that also mean I consent to yet another experimental treatment, where legal requirements are hidden in small print, or in documents that are often overlooked or purposefully written in confusing language? I am reminded of the Philadelphia Department of Health, who in 2009 made it legal for children 11 and older to receive immunizations without a guardian’s permission, as long as they “are capable of providing informed consent.” I know I was not capable of providing informed consent at the age of 11. Even more disturbing, in the five page packet that is given to all guardians of school aged children, is the “scientifically” based policy that, “The health care provider may not be sued or held liable for providing such immunization to the minor if the minor has consented to such procedures or treatment.” Sadly, this excerpt pales in comparison to the rest of this “official” document, and analyzing its entirety will take as much effort, if not more, than articulating my position in this ridiculous dispute.
I don’t even know where to begin with anyone that knowingly allowed children to endure the Department of Health’s treatment. I was fired for refusing an inaccurate test from contracted personnel, yet our “leaders” allowed outside entities to administer medical treatments without parental permission. I’m sure there were several cases where this was done without guardians knowing, but that investigation will be forthcoming. What happened to informed consent? At this point in my argument, I don’t think it is speculative to conclude that this definition must have also undergone revision. So once again I must ask the question, who are the “leaders” of the District serving? (You can see the massive overreach afforded to The Department of Public Health, aided by the District’s assistance, here: Department of Public Health)
Finally, if I do not agree with this Authorization, then shouldn’t that be allowable under these stipulations? I’m perfectly fine not taking the inaccurate test and relying on my natural antibodies that I developed after contracting the virus. I respect other’s desires to undergo such treatments, but from this language it appears this manufacturer has a similar attitude to my own; where one is free to choose what medical treatments they receive. I would like to note that this is probably the only stipulation present in these documents that I agree with, so the reader knows I’m not completely jaded.
- “I hereby authorize and consent to the following use and disclosure of my PHI to the listed Designated Entities:
a) my PHI may be used or disclosed by Impact Health to a clinical laboratory (“Lab”), if applicable, for the analysis and interpretation and reporting my test results; and,
b) Impact Health and/or the Lab, if applicable, may disclose the fact that I have been tested for COVID-19 in this screening program and my test results to (i) my employer (or host company, as the case may be) or any of its subsidiaries and (ii) federal, state, and local agencies, to the extent permitted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations and to protect the safety and well-being of those persons working on-site at my employer (or host company, as the case may be) or any of its subsidiaries.” Once again, who will these “Labs” and “Designated Entities” be sharing my PHI with? Who operates these “Labs” and “Designated Entities”? This is the third time that I have been asked to give consent to share my personal health information, collected by non-medical contractors, and this is very concerning. What actions are these federal, state and local agencies able to take with the acknowledgedly flawed results that are taken, in the absolute opposite conditions of a controlled setting? When did the District start caring about the safety and well-being of people on its property, other than legal disputes? I hope to receive answers to these questions, but currently no one has provided them. So I must ask again, who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I understand that I have the right to revoke this authorization at any time by delivering written notice of my intent to revoke to: Impact Health, 1009 West Ninth Avenue, Suite A, King of Prussia, PA 19406, Attention: Privacy Practices “ WHAT? So am I able to refuse this authorization initially? If not, why am I able to revoke my consent BY DELIVERING A WRITTEN LETTER TO A LAB, OUTSIDE CITY LIMITS, IN THE FUTURE? Parents were able to sign their child’s consent form online, “testing centers” are set up across the city, but subjects must deliver a letter to revoke their consent? This sentence alone should give authenticity to my stance, and I again wonder how “leaders” of education could comply with such requirements, which again begs the question; who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I am aware that my revocation will not be effective to the extent that the disclosure is permitted or required by state or federal law or regulation or relevant public authority or the persons I have authorized to use and/or disclose my Personal Health Information have acted in reliance upon this authorization.” So, even if I revoke authorization, my personal health information will still be stored outside of the contracted company that collected it? By signing this form, am I giving unknown authorities authorization to share my PHI? Knowing how student data was sold through programs like Achieve 3000 and Star Assessments, or state and SAT testing; how could anyone that serves the best interest of students knowingly sign off on this? This once again implores the question, who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I understand that the PHI released under this Authorization may no longer be protected by state and federal privacy laws and may be re-disclosed by the Designated Entity that receives the information, except as specifically indicated herein.” So I must give up my rights of privacy to a “Designated Entity” that operates outside state and federal laws? What laws would my PHI be subjected to? The fact that no one would have a discussion about these obstructions of justice was all the proof I needed. In order to enter these “schools”, basic rights, and therefore one’s dignity, must be conceded. So, who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS AUTHORIZATION AND FULLY UNDERSTAND ITS CONTENTS AND AUTHORIZE IMPACT HEALTH TO RELEASE PHI TO THE DESIGNATED ENTITIES FOR THE PURPOSES LISTED ABOVE. I EXPRESSLY CONSENT TO THE USE OF ELECTRONIC CLICK ASSENT AND UNDERSTAND THAT BY CLICKING “I AGREE,” I HAVE AFFIRMATIVELY EXECUTED THIS AUTHORIZATION AS IF I HAD PROVIDED AN ORIGINAL SIGNATURE ON THIS DOCUMENT.” After reading through these three consent forms, what options are available to those that are not comfortable giving privately contracted, non-medical personnel the right to collect and share their personal medical information? I had no option, nor did my students. If we wanted to participate in the controlled demolition of public education, we had to sacrifice our humanity and accept ourselves as diseases. This is coercion, which once again evokes the question: who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
I believe these vague and intrusive policies alone are ample enough reasons to desire an inaccurate test to be performed by my personal medical provider, but I think it is also important to address the consent form given to students and their guardians, which they were required to sign if they desired to have access to in-person learning. I am still under the impression that access to education is a right in this country, so the terms being demanded are a violation of this right. Since it is my duty to serve the children of Philadelphia, much of my decision to refuse consent was based on my commitment to advocating for the best interest of my students. The concerns I have on the consent form for students are listed below:
- “By signing below, I consent to follow and understand that my child must follow School District of Philadelphia Health and Safety protocols, consent to my child’s being tested by a Certified School Nurse through surveillance testing and symptomatic testing as described above and as a condition of participating in the hybrid program…” In the last School Board Meeting, Nurse Duffey from Palumbo pointed out that these tests are being administered by outside agencies, and not the school nurse. This alone is a violation of the agreement proposed by the District, which should be enough to cease this tedious undertaking. Sadly, due to the District “leadership’s” refusal to take any responsibility for wrongdoing, ample evidence of criminality and intricate dissection of fallacies is required. Even if it is just to have on record, these questionable actions must be established. Why would the District ever use the term “surveillance” in regards to testing? This seems to be an attempt at normalizing the next stage of oppressive regimes, by alluding to historical themes. Why not call it asymptomatic testing? Who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I am signing this form freely and voluntarily.” How can this be signed freely and voluntarily when many parents know that their children have been negatively affected by virtual learning, and it would be in many students’ best interest to be learning in person. “I understand that in order for my child to participate in hybrid learning, I must agree to allow the School District of Philadelphia to test my child for COVID-19 regardless of whether they show symptoms of illness.” Is this not contradictory to signing the form “freely and voluntarily”? How many times has the District been implicated in coercion so far, solely in these consent documents? With such blatant tactics of manipulation being put out in the open, one must ask, who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I authorize the School District of Philadelphia to test my child for COVID-19. I understand that my child may be tested as often as determined necessary by the Certified School Nurse, and that this consent extends to all surveillance and symptomatic COVID-19 testing performed during the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.” Once again, why weren’t these tests being given by Certified School Nurses? The District violated the terms of its own contract, yet I was terminated for my reluctance to give them authority over my health records? And then these outside entities can test children as often as they please? What motivates the desire for testing, if education is being disrupted to use flawed tests on people that have no known symptoms? As Tik Tok videos circulate detailing how to obtain a false positive reading, what effect will this policy have on maintaining consistency in their education? How could this level of consent be granted to unknown entities that are immune from any liability? How is this ensuring a suitable environment for learning? Who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I understand that my child’s test results and related information will be forwarded securely to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control.” Why is the district acting as a medical provider and sharing student medical records with government agencies? Shouldn’t this be done by personal medical providers to ensure privacy? When I wrote my draft, I was unaware of The Department of Health’s “Regulation Governing the Immunization and Treatment of Newborns, Children and Adolescents.” Here’s the link again, in case you missed it: Department of Public Health. Seriously, everyone should read it because it stirs up the question: who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I acknowledge that a positive test result will require me to promptly pick my child up from school and keep them home until they meet the criteria to return to school according to School District Health and Safety protocols even though COVID-19 tests may not be 100% accurate and have the potential for false positive or false negative results.” So students that have already faced major disruptions to their learning since March 13, 2020 will now be forced to accept further disruptions, even though the tests are admittedly inaccurate? This policy would keep students home for 10 days and has the potential to stigmatize students; and ultimately this action could be taken even if the child is not a threat to the health and safety of others due to a false-positive. Students already found out that certain substances will result in a 10 day excused absence, where they will have permission to return to whatever environment they have now grown used to. I am at a loss of words that someone would be forced to give consent to such a ridiculous and dangerous policy, which makes me wonder, who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I understand that the Certified School Nurse and School District of Philadelphia are not and are not acting as my child’s medical provider and that this testing does not replace treatment by my child’s medical provider, and I assume complete and full responsibility to follow up with a medical provider to determine appropriate action with regard to my child’s test results.” So the District acknowledges that it is not the child’s medical provider, but parents would be held responsible for providing medical care to their children based on a non-medical procedure that is known to produce inaccurate results? I can’t believe that I have to even ask these things. All evidence leads back to the ultimate question: who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
- “I am aware of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 of my child and others regardless of whether my child participates in hybrid or 100% digital learning, and understand that failure to consent to the testing described above, revocation of that consent, or failure to comply with the above rules and School District of Philadelphia Health and Safety protocols may result in steps being taken to protect the health and safety of my child as well as other students and staff, including but not limited to my child’s remaining in or returning to 100% digital learning.” Including, but not limited to, confining the child to digital learning? What other actions will the District, or the Designated Entities entrusted with PHI, take? This stipulation, combined with Department of Public Health policies, is frightening. At this point, everyone should be asking who the District’s “leaders” are truly serving.
- “I understand that testing will be provided for my child at no cost to me or my family.” But earlier the form acknowledges that parents are responsible for providing their child’s medical care. This is mixed-messaging and has the potential to place an economic burden on students’ families. Proving once again, it is not students that the District’s leaders are serving.
Nowhere on this form does it inform parents that these tests are only authorized under Emergency Use Authorization, which is a violation of the informed consent agreement. The policies being authorized in these “consent” forms are intrusive, paradoxical, and extremely suspicious. Under the guise of health and safety, the District and “Designated Entities” are implementing even greater barriers to student development, while ignoring the detrimental impact that lockdowns have had on their mental, physical and emotional health. In my opinion, these consent forms alone are cause for great concern, and giving my consent would not only jeopardize my privacy rights as an individual, but also cause greater harm to my students that are already suffering. Below I will also outline other alarming information that I uncovered through research.
- Abbott Laboratories BinaxNow information (the test most used by the district):
- MIT Review determined the following (https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/05/04/1024450/at-home-covid-test-review-accuracy-binaxnow-lucira-ellume/): “The drawback of the test is that there’s room for two different kinds of user error. It’s hard to see the drops come out of the dropper, and using too few could cause a false negative. So could swabbing your nose incorrectly. Unlike the other tests, this one can’t tell if you’ve made a mistake. And besides the prospect of user error, the test itself has issues with accuracy. BinaxNow is the cheapest test out there, but it’s also the most likely to be wrong, missing about one in seven real infections. Abbott cautions that results “should be treated as presumptive” and “do not rule out SARS-Cov-2.” It is important to note that teachers were instructed to swab themselves, so user error is even more likely. How can I be terminated for refusing a test that acknowledges it is not accurate, and whose company can not be held liable for any malfunction or negative impact that it has on individuals?
- “Shortly after Abbott completed its delivery of 150 million rapid antigen tests to the federal government for widespread distribution against the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study saying the card-based diagnostic may fail to catch about two-thirds of asymptomatic cases.” (https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/cdc-study-says-abbott-s-rapid-covid-19-antigen-test-may-miss-two-thirds-asymptomatic-cases)
- Further evidence that BinaxNow should not be used for asymptomatic testing: “The rapid tests aren’t recommended for people without symptoms who haven’t been exposed to a Covid-19 patient, and those who undergo one should be informed of the limitations, the Louisiana Department of Health said in guidance issued last week.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-04/caution-arises-on-rapid-covid-tests-in-asymptomatic-people)
- FDA: Potential for False Positive Results with Antigen Tests for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/potential-false-positive-results-antigen-tests-rapid-detection-sars-cov-2-letter-clinical-laboratory)
- The largest shareholder in Abbott Labs is Vanguard. Their former CEO was on the board of Philadelphia School Partnership, which has contradicted the District’s new efforts to preserve funds allocated to charters. “https://philaschoolpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/PSP-Map-_-8.26.19.pdf
Once again, these sources confirm my claim that these tests are not reliable, are only authorized under EUA, and therefore should not be trusted, particularly in asymptomatic cases. Why should I be forced to give consent to a test that acknowledges its inaccuracy, and has the potential to prevent me from serving my students in person if I receive a false positive? I am sure the District would contend that this is why they administer the TaqPath from Thermo Fisher Scientific, or the Cue Health Monitoring System, both of which are also authorized under an EUA and therefore illegal to make mandatory. There are plenty of articles that address the inaccuracy of these tests as well, so who are the District’s “leaders” serving?
What gave me the greatest concern in my research however, was one of the companies that the District has given a contract to: Thermo Fisher Scientific and it’s TaqPath. As I stated previously, the District has claimed a commitment to focusing on social justice and equality, particularly as it applies to race and sexuality. If this claim is authentic, then why is the District giving contracts to a company that is focused on establishing a DNA database that will be accessible to every police department in the country? If it seeks equality, why is it endorsing a company that harvested data by giving Chinese children “free health screenings,” in order to collect their DNA, and ultimately incarcerate Uyghurs and other dissident citizens in concentration camps? I have cited information below that highlights my concerns:
- FBI Approves Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Rapid DNA Solution for National DNA Index System (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/science/dna-crime-gene-technology.html) While this is currently being employed in limited areas, the implication is that this technology will be implemented nationally.
- Here is a presentation that highlights how this technology was used by the Bensalem Police Department: https://assets.thermofisher.com/TFS-Assets/GSD/Reference-Materials/law-enforcement-rapid-DNA-case-study.pdf
This presentation alone should be cause for concern for anyone that claims to serve the best interest of children. It is impossible to express the negative impact that our justice system has had on the lives of many of my students, and while this topic is one that would need to be addressed separately, the implications of this alliance are alarming. If one makes their way to the end of the presentation, they will also see that Thermo Fisher has partnered with Bode Technologies, which a little research will reveal to be a privatized company that is run by former employees of the CIA. Here is a link to a recent conference that they held, and I advise exploring their website as well:
3) Why did the Philadelphia Police Department allocate money to Thermo Fisher Scientific for “lab equipment”? And if your immediate reaction is to label this question as speculation, I ask that you look at the information provided in number 4. I also would encourage you to investigate the PPD Forensic Director’s (Mike Garvey) ties to the CIA.
4) WHY IS THE DISTRICT GIVING CONTRACTS TO COMPANIES THAT HAVE ASSISTED IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES SINCE 2017?
- Thermo Fisher Scientific has supplied, “[T]echnologies to ‘severely limit the freedoms of movement, expression, and religion’ of the ethnic minority Uyghur population of western China. China has detained an estimated 500,000 to 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in ‘political education centers,’ including over a dozen family members of U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) Uyghur Service journalists.” https://www.cecc.gov/media-center/press-releases/chairs-ask-commerce-secretary-ross-about-sale-of-surveillance-technology
“‘[H]uman rights groups have expressed alarm that such data could be employed to track down Uighurs who do not cooperate with the government. For example, the DNA could be used to predict an individual’s facial features, images of which the government could compile in ‘mass surveillance and facial recognition systems that it is building.’” Also of note is the quotation that has haunted me since I found it in April: “The Chinese government’s intrusive surveillance of its population, including the collection of biometric data, is not confined solely to Xinjiang. Throughout the country, police have taken individuals’ DNA samples by offering “free health checks” or by simply taking saliva samples from school children. Chinese public security officials aim to have 100 million DNA records in their national database before the end of this year. However, the anthropologist Darren Byler, an expert on recent Chinese government policies toward Uighurs, has argued that the state’s biometric data system is particularly threatening to Uighurs: “Since Uyghurs have no legal representation and virtually no institutional support, the Chinese state is free to experiment on them as they wish. The resonance between the eugenics movement that was widespread in America and Western Europe in the 1940s and the contemporary Chinese weaponization of biomedicine is not lost on them. This is why there is widespread fear among Uyghurs that the biometric data may be used to selectively harvest the organs of thousands of Uyghurs that have disappeared . . . [into] the mass detention system.”’ How can a district, that outwardly claims to be focused on equality and justice, conduct business with a company that engages in such business practices, even though Thermo Fisher announced they would no longer do business in that region in 2019. ‘“We recognize the importance of considering how our products and services are used—or may be used—by our customers,’ the company said in a statement. It didn’t specify whether it would continue to sell these sequencers elsewhere in China.”
If one were to give Thermo Fisher Scientific the benefit of the doubt, and believe their claims of being ignorant to this gross abuse of their product, does that not still enable the same abuse to be perpetrated on Philadelphia’s children? Who is overseeing this operation? Why should I trust the District when they have failed to provide contract information that was requested months ago, which was supposed to be provided within 30 days? How can I be terminated from my position, as a public servant, when my actions are strictly motivated by the desire to protect the students I love?
I could go further in depth into the reasons why I would not consent to the protocols the District has put in place for “health and safety,” but I believe the information I provided gives ample reasoning for my decision. To be fired for standing up for the basic human rights of students and staff is absolutely ludicrous, and I am firmly committed to exposing the hypocrisy and abuse that the District engages in, and has engaged in, until responsibility is taken. How dare these “leaders” scapegoat me and label me as a threat to my students’ safety! I have witnessed the “leaders” of this district ignore health and safety standards for over a decade with no accountability. I don’t know how anyone in a position of “authority” in this system sleeps at night, and I would like to affirm that anyone who implements these directives is violating their duty to serve the children of Philadelphia. You may have terminated me from my position, but I remain committed to doing what is best for Philadelphia’s children, which to some degree will be focused on exposing the District’s rampant corruption.
Leaders show loyalty through action. Not one District employee engaged in a conversation with me while I stood outside District offices and publicly questioned its “safety-plan” and intentions, so excuse me if I have a hard time believing that the overseers of this corrupt institution are concerned about my health and safety. When combined with the inhuman policies I have witnessed from the District’s administration over the last decade, this rhetoric can only lead me to conclude that there are far more dangerous individuals than myself “leading” this operation, who are far more deserving of termination. I assume they know who they are, and I intend to expose their nefarious involvement in this scheme eventually. If you know that what you are being pressured to do is wrong, then I encourage you to speak your truth, because at this point silence is violence. If you worked here long enough, you should know its “leaders” are composed of incompetent bullies, and they lack the capability to conceal their self-serving deeds for perpetuity. Their misconduct surfaces eventually, and then their destructive leadership techniques, learned at the likes of Broad Academy, are transferred to another city. My student’s lives come before my own, so cowardice is a leadership trait that I can no longer passively accept. The conduct of District “leadership” is, and most likely always has been, detrimental to Philadelphia’s children.
In conclusion, I want you to know the reasons for my concerns, and ask that I be allowed to return to the District and resume my teaching responsibilities going forward, without submitting to protocols that are dangerous to the academic development of my students, or boosting the profits of questionable companies.
Thank you for your attention and consideration. And please, for the sake of our children, start paying attention to those we trust to serve them.
Former English Teacher
Constitution High School