In June 2022 I was asked by the attorneys in the Kane-Keil case to submit a Declaration Betsy Combier declaration on the “Problem Code” (“PR” code, “No Hire-Inquiry” code, PNOB, or Personnel Not On Budget) and I agreed to do that. Tagged on to my Declaration is an email from DOE employee Eric Amato, dated February 9, 2022, sent to Beth Norton at the UFT, saying
I uncovered this code when I heard about the "The Monitoring Unit" in 2004, and intrigue always interests me, so I started researching what the heck this was?
I filed a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request for all documents connected with the Monitoring Unit, and the NYC Department of Education FOIL office gave me nothing, saying all of the data was private social security numbers.
I kept looking around, talking to my sources, and found enough information to write my first article about the code, which I posted on my website Parentadvocates.org in about 2007. I updated it in 2019:The New York City Department of Education's "Problem Code" is an Unlawful Flag on an Employee's Fingerprints
"Never heard of it".
I then got a letter from the ALJ asking for me to write a Statement about the Problem Code, and file a separate Complaint because it affected all teachers.
I did that (I am not an attorney, but non-attorneys can represent Charging Parties at PERB).
February 11, 2023
One year ago, New York City fired over 1,430 city employees who refused to take the COVID vaccine. Several of those workers filed a class action lawsuit against the City. During that lawsuit, the teachers’ attorney introduced a sworn deposition stating that, when teachers refused the vaccination, the city flagged them as “problems” and handed their fingerprints over to both the FBI and the New York criminal justice system.
Michael Kane, the named plaintiff in Kane v. DeBlasio, has written a post revealing how New York City tried to criminalize teachers who refused to comply with the demand that they take injections of an experimental agent that’s now proving to have been extremely dangerous. He explains that, during a hearing on February 8, the attorney defending New York City “stated that educators fired for declining covid vaccination were not removed for misconduct, but rather for not meeting a requirement for employment.”
The plaintiffs’ attorney, John Bursch, countered by pointing to the sworn Declaration of Betsy Combier, attesting to the fact that the City gave the fingerprints of these same teachers to the FBI and New York criminal justice system—an action indicating that the city viewed the teachers as criminal, rather than simply failing to meet a “requirement for employment.” Here’s what Combier, a paralegal specialist who worked for the United Federation of Teachers (“UFT”), stated under oath regarding the city’s actions vis-à-vis the FBI and the New York criminal justice system:
8. I am also very familiar with "problem codes"—the flag the DOE [New York Department of Education] puts in the personnel file of employees to indicate that they should not be hired due to unexplained misconduct of some kind. Employees can be flagged for everything from receiving an unsatisfactory or ineffective rating to engaging in egregious criminal acts.
9. When the DOE puts a problem code in the employee's personnel file, it also places a flag on the employee's fingerprints, which is then sent to the national databases at both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
12. I know of many former DOE employees who have problem codes in their personnel files because they declined to be vaccinated in violation of the DOE's mandate and were not granted a religious or medical exemption. The DOE places a problem code on the employee's personnel file immediately upon getting information that the employee did not submit proof of vaccination. As soon as the employee gets the vaccination and submits proof, the code is removed from his or her file.
Combier further testifies that schools in New York state that are thinking of hiring those teachers fired for not receiving the vaccinations would check the teachers’ records in a system called Galaxy, which also contained that “problem” designation. Those teachers who were refused new jobs believe that this designation, which carries with it the suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, was the bar to their finding new employment.
I don’t have any grand conclusions to draw about this. It’s sufficient to know that the New York City school system treated teachers who refused a vaccine as criminals, and those same teachers, unbeknownst to them, were suddenly and automatically part of the FBI’s and the New York criminal justice system’s database of people suspected of criminal activity or propensities. Really, do I need to say more?
The following is an excerpt from The Defender.
Unvaccinated New York City teachers were reportedly “flagged” and their fingerprints sent to the FBI, according to an affidavit filed in federal court last week.
In the New Yorkers for Religious Liberty Inc. v. The City of New York appeals hearing, challenging the now-rescinded vaccine mandate for city employees, plaintiff’s attorney John Burch said that “flagged” teachers were labeled with “problem codes” that impact their ability to get another job.
The allegations were based on a June 2022 affidavit written by Betsy Combier, president of the due process advocacy group Advocatz, detailing how the New York City Department of Education (DOE) flagged unvaccinated teachers without evidence of misconduct and sent their information, including fingerprints “to the national databases at both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and [New York’s] State Division of Criminal Justice Services.”
Sujata Gibson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, commented on these revelations to The Defender:
“These are hardworking teachers and educators with excellent employment records who dedicated their lives to teaching in the New York City public schools. It is unacceptable that the DOE would place problem codes on their employment files and flag their fingerprints with the FBI simply because they were not able or willing to get vaccinated.
“This was never about public health. This was about punishing those whose religious and other beliefs don’t line up with corporate interests in an effort to make it impossible to dissent.”
Michael Kane, national grassroots organizer for Children’s Health Defense and founder of Teachers For Choice, reported the “problem codes” on Feb. 9, one day after the hearing in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Unvaccinated teachers denied jobs due to the ‘problem code’
According to Combier’s affidavit, the DOE assigns “problem codes” to the personnel files of employees that “should not be hired due to unexplained misconduct of some kind.”
The affidavit stated:
“When the DOE puts a problem code in the employee’s personnel file, it also places a flag on the employee’s fingerprints, which is then sent to the national databases at both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
“I have represented more than 15 DOE employees before the DOE’s Office of Personnel Investigation in proceedings in which they requested the removal of their problem codes. The flag has several names such as ‘problem code,’ ‘pr’ code, ‘pc’ code, ‘ineligible,’ and ‘no hire/inquiry’ code; however, all refer to a salary block, whatever title it is given.”
Attorneys for the city did not deny the veracity of this information in court.
[Michael] Kane, wrote, “Attorney Susan Paulson who was defending NYC stated that educators fired for declining Covid vaccination were not removed for misconduct, but rather for not meeting a requirement for employment.”
“If there was no misconduct, why are unvaccinated educators’ fingerprints sent to the FBI?” asked Kane.
Read more at this link.