Ms. Centner, an avid social media user who has long used her accounts to document her luxurious lifestyle, took control of the school last year amid the pandemic. She told the community that from preschool through eighth grade, the school would focus on “happiness” and advocate for “medical freedom.”
Recognition…Romain Maurice / Getty Images for Haute Living
However, interviews with 21 current and former parents and teachers, plus a review of social media posts and school documents, emails, text messages and videos, reveal how wealthy and well-connected Ms. Centner brought her anti-vaccination and anti-vaccination – insights debunking into daily school life and turning a close community into a bitter split between those who support their views on vaccination and those who do not.
“Every afternoon I have to explain things to my child when they come home and say, ‘How come the school says what you say is wrong?'” Iris Acosta-Zobel said, referring to the importance it has at home masking and vaccination. She pulled her daughter out of school on Friday.
David J. Centner, a former electronic highway toll operator who co-founded the school with his wife in its current iteration, said in written responses to questions that the school listens to families. “We have met more than 70 parents and we are delighted that so many families continue to support our mission and trust us with their children,” he said.
Sara Dagan, who has four children in the school, said she was unaffected by the controversy. “Everything was disproportionate,” she said. “I feel good if I withhold the vaccine. My main concern is the happiness of children. “
Most of the people interviewed for this article asked for anonymity to protect their children or their employment. Some former parents and teachers said they feared retaliation for speaking publicly. Others declined to comment because the school got them to sign nondisclosure agreements.
The anti-vaccination policy requires recently vaccinated teachers to keep their distance from students – for example, Ms. Centner urged teachers not to hug the children. It caused such a frenzy that a reporter asked about it during a briefing at the White House. (The school received $ 804,375 from the federal paycheck protection program during the pandemic.) Press secretary Jen Psaki noted that public health guidelines are designed to strongly promote coronavirus vaccines and keep people safe.