NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four New York City school employees are hoping to take their fight to stop the city’s vaccine mandate to the Supreme Court.
They claim the mandate violates their rights.READ MORE: New York City Public School Sports Teams May Allow Spectators
As CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer explains, it’s another attempt to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio from forcing teachers and paraprofessionals to get the COVID vaccine in order to teach in city schools.
This follows the ruling from a federal appeals court Monday that said the mandate was legal.
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From the moment the mayor decided to impose a vaccine mandate, a group of New York City teachers, about 3%, have been adamantly opposed to being forced to get the shot.
Now, four of them have filed an emergency petition with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, asking her to stop the mayor from enforcing the vaccine edict, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.
Rachel Maniscalo is one of the four teachers or paraprofessionals named in the petition.
“I think the mayor needs to understand that we all feel very much betrayed,” she told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
During the height of the pandemic, Maniscalo taught in person while pregnant at a high school on Staten Island. As push comes to shove in this COVID shot showdown with the mayor, she’s sticking to her belief that the vaccine isn’t right for her.
“Why is this something that you’re willing to potentially lose your job over?” Layton asked.
“I think that the idea is medical freedom,” Maniscalo said.
Their main argument is that their rights are being violated because they are not allowed a testing option, like other municipal workers.
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They claim that the mayor’s order will “force thousands of unvaccinated public school employees to lose their jobs, while other municipal employees, including those who have significant contact with children, are allowed to opt out of the vaccine mandate through weekly COVID-19 testing.”READ MORE: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots Greenlighted By CDC
Lawyers for the teachers and other school employees argue that forcing them to get the vaccine or lose their jobs is the “epitome of government overreach,” a violation of their constitutional right to due process and equal protection.
“They’re being told either take a vaccination or lose your job … We’re asking the Supreme Court to let us put these teachers in the same position as everybody else and give them a testing option instead of forcing this vaccination on them,” attorney Louis Gelormino said.
The rule applies not only to teachers, but other staff, including custodians, cafeteria workers and school safety agents.
Those who don’t get their first shot by Friday would be replaced by substitutes or what the mayor calls “alternative staff.”
“To just put them in there with somebody who they don’t know, who doesn’t necessarily have experience, that is a whole other safety risk,” teacher Stephanie Edmonds said.
Watch Marcia Kramer’s report —
“Do you worry at any point that parents won’t want their child in your class because you’re not vaccinated?” Layton asked.
“I haven’t come across any parents who feel that way. Actually, if you look at the Staten Island parent groups, they’re all outside supporting the teachers and petitioning the schools and the city for their children to have those teachers,” Maniscalo said.
The mayor continues to say the courts will prevail.
While the school employees are seeking an injunction, the city says they have no valid claims and have stated no basis for the Supreme Court to get involved.
“The Health Department has the authority to implement the mandate,” said a spokesman for the Department of Education, insisting the mandate is “firmly grounded in science and the expertise of public health officials from across the nation.”
The city says in the last three days, an additional 3,000 Department of Education employees got their first dose. Overall, 89% are vaccinated, including 92% of teachers and 97% of school principals.
A decision on the injunction could come as soon as Friday, but lawyers say more likely, over the weekend.
CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Mayor De Blasio Doubles Down On Municipal Workers Vaccine Mandate: 'We Have Contingency Plans In Place'