a teacher we employ forged vaccination paperwork for his child

A reader writes:

Where I live, vaccination for children is mandatory except in rare medical cases as certified by a doctor. If a child is not vaccinated and they don’t have a medical exemption, by law they cannot attend school or daycare.

I am employed by the school district in my area. One of the teachers who works for my district has a child who attends school in this district. The state department was contacted by a relative of his. She told them this teacher is known to be anti-vaccine in his personal life and she was surprised his child was able to attend school because the child is not vaccinated. They checked and found this teacher and his wife had submitted a vaccination form for their child. The relative said she has a child the same age as this teacher, and when the state department compared the records everything was identical (the handwriting, a crossed out date correction, even a smudge on the photocopies of the records). The doctor told the state department that the sister-in-law’s child was a patient but the teacher’s child is not. The teacher was unable to produce proof of his child being vaccinated and admitted to borrowing the records of the relative’s child during a visit and making a copy.

His child has been taken out of school and he is facing disciplinary action. Until that process happens, he is still employed by the district. He has been removed from the classroom because some parents objected or pulled their kids from his class once word of what he did got out. My issue is that no one wants to work with him or associate with him at work because he lied. Many parents, including the ones of his child’s classmates, are calling for him to get fired by the district and there is vitriol everywhere. I know I can’t control what people do outside of work, but the shunning at work is causing disruption. I want to address it with the people he is working with but I am not sure how given how contentious this issue is.

How would you address this issue if you were in my shoes? If he had just lied about his child’s vaccine status without it coming into the workplace, I would leave this alone because it’s a personal matter.

He deliberately forged required paperwork. That’s a big deal. It goes to integrity and your ability to trust him to follow the policies of the school district — to say nothing of his disregard for other kids’ well-being. I agree with the people calling for him to be fired.

But unless/until that happens … in theory you can tell other employees that they’re entitled to have whatever feelings they want toward this guy but that they need to interact with him politely and professionally at work. And you can require them to do that just like you can require any other element of job performance.

But should you? I’d argue that he’s experiencing a natural consequence of his own actions, and you’ll need to take into his account his compromised credibility and effectiveness when evaluating whether you can keep him in his job. If he does stay on, you can’t have people shunning him so you’d have to address that … but it’s pretty understandable that people don’t want to work with him, and you can’t disregard that.

(For anyone wondering why I didn’t take as hard of a line on the recent letter about the person accused of knowingly bringing norovirus into the office, it’s the added elements here of the forgery, the premeditation, and the deliberate violating of a policy known to have serious consequences.)

{ 539 comments… read them below }

    1. sstabeler*

      I’d say it’s irrelevant anyway- the issue isn’t not getting his kid vaccinated, it’s lying about it.

  1. AMG*

    I agree completely with Alison’s advice and I admit I would have a hard time working with him. He’s really put himself in an extremely bad position and probably just needs to go elsewhere. Like go back to college and get a different degree and give up on teaching. I won’t go after it hammer and tong like I did with the Norovirus post, but I will say that to me these situations are very similar. I see where Alison is coming from on the premeditation though.

    1. TL -*

      This is not an invitation to debate the merits of vaccines, but if he truly believes vaccines will harm his child and he truly needs a job, especially in a small town, I can understand the motivation, if not the execution.
      That doesn’t make it okay, and he should definitely still be fired, but before we jump on him, I think it’s good to remember that he may have seen it as the only way to provide his kid with a safe life, both medically and monetarily, even if we don’t agree with his reasoning.

      1. Allypopx*

        That’s very thoughtful and compassionate, thank you for keeping the conversation conscientious.

        1. Annonymouse*

          But that doesn’t excuse fraud and potentially exposing family members to an investigation/ charges laid against them.

          You have the right to choose to vaccinate. However in this persons region that choice means you can’t go to publicly accessible schools.

          The answer to get your child an education is not obviously “commit fraud”.

          The answers are:
          * Get the vaccine
          * Have your child attend school in a different district where it’s not required
          * take up home schooling if you can afford it.

          I don’t blame people for not wanting to be near them. This is compatible with time card or tax fraud. Manipulating something for your own gain and showing a lack of integrity or ability to be trusted.

            1. Suzanne*

              Actually, CA got rid of the religious exemption, I believe. So, there is only an honest medical exemption for things like allergies to the vaccine or it’s binders.

            2. an anon*

              Yes, if the teacher wants his kid to go to public schools without being vaccinated, he should move to a state that allows non-medical exemptions.

      2. Liane*

        Maybe I am being harsh, but this is a 2 parent household, one of them with a teaching license, both decided against vaccinating their child*. Sounds like they should have gone for homeschooling.

        *tempering my word choice A Lot

        1. TL -*

          They should have decided on either vaccination or another schooling option but not every family can afford to have someone stay home.
          He should be fired. His actions were reprehensible. But if his motivations are as presented, we should try to a approach this with compassion.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            What about compassion for the children whose lives his deception may have put in danger? That might sound extreme, but friends of mine had a daughter who was severely immuno-compromised. She passed away because of a throat infection.

            1. TL -*

              For the immunocompromised kids, he should be fired (for cause clearly explained) and his kid should be removed from the school system until he is compliant with policy and the public should be made aware that lying about vaccine status is not tolerated. Which is exactly what happened/is happening.

              I have plenty of compassion for immunocompromised kids; I work in a cancer hospital and see them (and their parents) nearly every day. I understand the gigantic risk he was taking and pointed that out in an earlier comment. You can have compassion for both sides.

              1. jwg*

                As gold digger said: He put other peoples’ children at risk. (And his own, possibly.)

                ^^This. In addition to the lying/forgery, we’re talking about a teacher who put children at risk, not out of forgetfulness or thoughtlessness or distraction, but willfully, through planning and deceit, by violating a policy that he knew quite well. He took the policy of the school district – which was laid out clearly and was crafted to protect the children – and violated it intentionally, and deceived others to do so, putting the children in his district’s care at risk.

                It was his job as a teacher, and it is the school district’s job to care for, protect, and educate the kids. He prevented that from happening, and in the process he violated the trust of his colleagues and the parents in the district.


                1. JessaB*

                  I agree fire him. Honestly I don’t care if it was about vaccines, or pay or holiday time or even whether he forged a document saying his kid lived at an address in a better district. Or whether his car was properly inspected if the state requires inspections.

                  The vaccine part is actually a red herring.

                  There was a rule/law. He knew about the rule/law and he not only violated it by being sneaky, he violated it by actively forging documents and tricking people into believing he was in compliance. And worse he did this whilst employed in a position of “special trust.” A teacher of minor children. Someone responsible for making sure his students and their families follow the rules. Someone who is supposed to model good behaviour.

                  This is a HUGE breach of that trust.

              2. Jessica*

                Can somebody provide me with a scientific paper that shows how a person who does not have a certain disease e.g. diptheria can pass on diptheria to another person. I cannot see how a healthy non vaccinated child can pass on diptheria ti another classmate. Thanks this is not contravertial I am neither pro or anti vax. Just tying to understand the basic sience on which this discussion is based. Thank you.

                1. snuck*

                  If you google ‘transmission of disease’ you’ll get a lot of answers … add in the specific name of the disease if you want specifics about a particular disease.

                2. A. Nonny*

                  Herd immunity is the action of immunising a high percentage of the population to contain outbreaks of contagious, sometimes deadly diseases (like diphtheria). In this case, if one person in a population gets diphtheria they can only spread it so far as there are unvaccinated people, and that opportunity dwindles the higher the proportion of vaccinated people to unvaccinated. (This is why diseases like polio are so much rarer today.)

                  When the percentage of immunised people drops, however, resulting in more “healthy non-vaccinated” people, the risk of contagion rises again. For many of this population, catching these diseases won’t cause lasting damage to them and may not even cause many symptoms, but an unlucky “healthy non-vaccinated” minority WILL find them damaging and potentially fatal. And there is also another group who need to be protected by herd immunity: infants who haven’t had their vaccinations yet and people who have a medical reason (like being immunocompromised) for why they can’t be vaccinated.

                  This population literally relies on herd immunity to survive (there were massive numbers of infants who died from whooping cough, for example, before the vaccine was introduced) which is why we need to keep children who can be vaccinated, vaccinated. And in the case of diphtheria, it can be spread by airborne contact rather than just direct contact, making it even more treacherous to keep contained without a significant proportion of a group being immunised.

            2. Cath in Canada*

              Exactly. I know a family who had to pull their daughter out of school just as she was finally starting to recover from years of cancer treatments and a bone marrow transplant, because the vaccination rate had slipped too low for her to be protected. As bad as that situation was, it was still better than her being exposed to measles or whooping cough before her immune system had rebooted enough for her to get vaccinated.

              1. Gadfly*

                It isn’t just those with compromised immune systems. Vaccines just ‘take’ better in some people and not so well in others. You can be up on all of your vaccines and just not be protected enough. Part of why herd immunity matters

          2. Observer*

            It’s a bit hard for me to have much compassion for someone who puts a relative at risk for being implicated in a fraud.

            1. Anne (with an "e")*

              I agree. The relative from whom he “borrowed” those documents could have gotten into a lot of trouble.

              1. Ruffingit*

                Yes, and I’d also just be generally upset if I was the parent whose child’s medical records were stolen and copied. What a violation of privacy on many fronts!!

                1. JessaB*

                  True. I do think it is now time for that district however to change their policy slightly. Since excluded children should be a small percentage the form the doctor has to fill out should A: be standardised and B: have a line on the bottom where the parent or responsible party gives permission for the district to call the doctor for the purpose of verifying the paperwork. (Only for that purpose, but with such a small amount of students actually compromised, it shouldn’t take someone in the central office more than an hour or two to call and make sure.

                  And when the parents ask why, you can say you had fraud before and you want to protect their kids by making absolutely sure.

          1. Agnodike*

            Oh dear; I think it’s probably possible to criticize someone’s approach to parenting and public health without saying that they shouldn’t have the right to reproduce.

            1. kittymommy*

              Agree, a parent has a right to decide vaccination for their children. No commentary on parental ability is necessary.

      3. AMG*

        He does not get to bend the rules to what works for him. No dice. If I want to rob a bank because I want the money, you can understand my motivation. Endangering others does not deserve special compassion just because it was the only way for him to have his cake and eat it too.

        1. MMDD*

          A-freaking-men. I’m immuno-compromised. I have less than zero patience for this person in this letter. If they don’t want to vaccinate, then there’s nothing we can do to change that. But to knowingly send his unvaccinated child to a school where it is mandatory by lying and forging documents? No bueno. You don’t get to benefit from herd immunity if you refuse to contribute when you’re medically able to.

          1. Ruffingit*

            You don’t get to benefit from herd immunity if you refuse to contribute when you’re medically able to.

            YES! THIS! AMEN! PREACH ON!

        2. Kate*

          Yes!!! I don’t want to go off topic, but I get really sick of people’s excuses for bad behavior. I’m poor, that’s why I robbed the bank, it wasn’t my fault. I’ve had a hard time lately, that’s why I screamed and swore at the cashier, it wasn’t my fault. On and on and on. But a lot of people are poor, a lot of people have difficult lives, and they manage to be decent human beings anyway.

      4. MadGrad*

        Okay, that’s very kind of you, but every other parent in the school is relying on the enforcement of this rule (with exceptions only where strictly needed) to feel like they’re providing their kids with a safe life. His actions not only go against this, but directly sabotage the herd immunity they’re going for.

        Also, if he’s willing to lie to cover up something that I’d consider a threat to my child’s safety for his convenience (if he feels that strongly he can move or homeschool, even if it’s costly), why should I trust him with my kids at all? If his buddy is mistreating students or there’s some bullying going on in his line of sight, should I now trust that he’ll make the right decision? I see no reason why we should prioritize his concerns over the hundreds of other parents involved.

        1. TL -*

          Which is why I said he should be fired.
          But it is possible to say that he should be both punished and treated with compassion or kindness. One can do both simultaneously.

          1. MadGrad*

            Again, no. He could do online homeschooling or move if it absolutely had to be so for him. He prioritized his opinion over everyone else’s needs so he wouldn’t have to makes any extra sacrifices.

            I’m seeing it like this: imagine he sincerely believed that children need a daily dose of pork products to survive. If he wants to pay for his own kid’s lunches and do the extra work, then that’s his choice. He did the equivalent of secretly sprinkling bacon in a Muslim school’s cafeteria food. Unless he is actually delusional, he does not get sympathy for acting badly based on sincere beliefs.

            1. TL -*

              Unless he can’t afford to do either of those. Yes, there are always other options and he did a bad thing and he needs to fired and it needs to be made clear this is unacceptable. All of that is happening. I agree with it happening.

              But demonizing someone who, rightly or wrongly, feels like they were doing what was necessary to protect their kid (yes, at the risk of other children; I understand that) I’m not okay with. I’m not arguing against any of the consequences but I’m not especially comfortable with the attitude, especially when the OP seems to leaning on the compassionate (but still consequence-driven) side.

              1. A*

                It does not matter what he could or could not afford to do.
                He violated school policy.
                He forged medical documentation.
                He put children’s lives at risk because of his personal preference.
                No sympathy, no compassion. Ass. Door. Now.

                1. Amy the Rev*

                  I think you’re assuming that being compassionate is the same as being lenient. In all their comments, TL has pointed out that they think the teacher *should* be fired, or as you put it, “Ass. Door. Now.”.

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  I agree with Amy the Rev. You can have compassion for someone while still believing they should experience the foreseeable consequences of their actions.

                  I don’t think we have enough info to say that maybe he couldn’t afford another option for putting his child in a safe school environment. We also don’t have enough info to assume he does. In this country, we put a lot of parents in positions where they feel they have no option but to make questionable decisions for the sake of their children. And _everyone_ does stupid things sometimes that are known to be stupid, but which we rationalize as being ok in our case.

                  I have a little less compassion than TL does, but I can imagine a situation where a parent would do this and not because he thinks rules don’t apply to him. For that person, I do have compassion. He should still be fired, and I have no problem with his coworkers avoiding him because they no longer trust him.

              2. Amy the Rev*

                ^^ Agreed, TL- plus I don’t think that compassion and sympathy are inherently the same thing. I think a lot of folks equate compassion with justification or leniency or rationalization, etc., but in my experience, having a compassionate frame of mind during a certain situation isn’t necessarily the same as having a sympathetic frame of mind. Also, compassion, like love, isn’t a zero-sum kinda thing, it’s not a pie chart. You can treat multiple parties in a situation with compassion, just like folks who live in a blended family and have more than two parents/step parents/etc or folks who are in a polyamorous relationship, and love each person 100%, whether there are 1 or 3 or 5 members of the family/relationship.

                1. Prismatic Professional*

                  *applause* Yes. Compassion =/= leniency =/= sympathy.

                  To be clear – I would be furious if this happened around me. I think such a disregard of the safety of others is despicable. I can still have compassion for a parent trying to protect their child (no comment on efficacy of said protection). AND just because I can intellectually understand that might be the position the teacher was coming from, doesn’t mean I would be able to interact with him as I did before I knew he was a forger, liar, and someone who didn’t think the rules applied to him. He should be fired. Forgery is a crime after all. So is sending his kid to school unvaccinated (in this district).

                  In short – I can have compassion for the human parent who perceives himself to be stuck between a rock and a hard place without condoning his actions.

                2. MadGrad*

                  I guess I’m just not clear on how else I should be talking about this (sincerely, I’m not trying to be snarky). I think he did a terrible thing, and even in empathizing with his frame of mind and reasons still think he made a choice to risk other people before himself. I don’t think he shouldn’t have kids, or that he did it purposefully to harm others, but apart from expressing sympathy (have none) or vouching for leniency or forgiveness in some way (I don’t approve of either of those things given the poor judgement I think he displayed), I don’t know how any compassion I feel should change my thoughts on this. No, he shouldn’t go to jail or be harassed, but my validating chilly reception, anger from parents and severe professional penalties for the breach of trust aren’t from a lack of compassion. I just have no way to use or express any compassion or understanding I may have in light of these other things.

                  Does that make sense? I’m trying to be transparent and not too philosophical.

                3. Gadfly*

                  I can have compassion without thinking it is in the least bit relevant to what has to happen next. I can make up stories where he is a tragic figure or delusional or a mustache twirling villain. None are relevant. Bottom line is he violated a lot of pretty foundational requirements for his position. He violated personal boundaries. He is operating from a different rule book, for whatever reason, and can’t be trusted to follow the rules everyone else is playing by.

                4. Amy the Rev*

                  Not sure if this will nest properly, but it’s in response to Gadfly- since the OP doesn’t sound like she has authority over what consequences the teacher gets, and is instead writing in about how to manage the response of coworkers/parents which seems to be causing a disruption in the school and for the kids, I think the idea of trying to get into a compassionate frame of mind is very relevant. It could be framed as having compassion for the kids, even, to ask the co-workers and parents to try and compartmentalize their (justified) anger so that the children and their daily education aren’t collateral damage, so to speak.

                5. Oranges*

                  Yes, I can and do have sympathy for numerous horrific people while also saying they need to take the consequences of their actions. Which usually is to be locked the hell up far away from defenseless “prey”.

                  I do this for one reason: so when someone comes to me saying that my best-friend/lover/child did something horrific to them, I CAN BELIEVE THEM. I don’t fall back on the “only monsters do that” => “my beloved isn’t a monster” => “LIES! ALL OF IT!”

          2. Taylor Swift*

            You would think, but there do seem to be a lot of people in this world incapable of both.

          3. Observer*

            I’m going to agree that, no. I get that someone could be so afraid of the vaccination that he won’t do it. I can even believe that someone has themselves convinced that the diseases being vaccinated against are “not the serious”.

            But, how do you convince yourself that the relative whose documents you stole for your forgery is not at risk? Which makes me wonder about whether they really believe that there is no threat to others vs not caring a bitty bit.

            What else are they going to lie about? And who else are they going to throw under a bus?

      5. Observer*

        No – there is always the option of homeschooling.

        Not only did the teacher commit fraud and forge paperwork, they actually put a family member at risk. After all, if the relative had not been the one who blew the whistle, and someone else had, they would have been implicated as being party to a fraud.

        1. Gaia*

          I just want to point out that there is *not* always the option of homeschooling. Homeschooling requires at least one parent to stay at home and that may not be possible in this household.

          He should be fired, but we seem to be forgetting that not everyone has the same options. That doesn’t excuse his behavior nor does it mean he should be able to get around the rules, it is just something we need to understand.

          1. BPT*

            Just because you don’t like the options or they aren’t good ones doesn’t mean you don’t have them. If not vaccinating your child is important enough to forge documents and lose your job over, then I think it would be worth making other sacrifices as well. You get to choose – do you want to vaccinate your child and send them to a public school, or do you not want to vaccinate your child and not send them to a public school?

            Just because you don’t like the choice doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If having one parent stay home means you have to move to a one bedroom apartment, or move to a lower cost of living area, or not having any entertainment budget whatsoever, or having one parent work three jobs, then that’s what you do. There are also homeschool groups and other ways to keep your child out of public school if necessary, like if you’re a single parent.

            Sure, not everyone has the same options, and for some people it’s definitely harder. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have choices.

            And if you’re going to lose your job anyway and be unemployed, it might have been a better option to stay home in the first place.

            1. MadGrad*

              This is where I’m coming from. If it was that big of a rock and a hard place, some difficult decisions obviously have to be made. Either they risk their financial safety (moving, one income, pricey homeschooling) or kid’s education quality for a while until better arrangements can be made, or they risk the health of other kids and the trust parents have in the school district of caught. He chose to risk other people’s kid’s lives and trust, and for that I have no compassion.

              1. JessaB*

                And honestly if there’s a district close that does not require vaccination, I’d think you could make a pretty good variance case for sending your kid there. Now there may not be, this may be state law the guy is up against, but I don’t see any evidence that he tried anything at all except forgery.

          2. Observer*

            Actually, in a two parent household, homeschooling is almost always an option. It may mean one of the parents taking a less desirable work shift, but still doable.

            1. Lori*

              Since he has a teaching degree, if it was that important to him, he should have looked into a job that was able to work from home. Possibly teaching the online homeschooling classes or a online college class.

          3. Gadfly*

            Many places have public online options. I believe there are some national organizations (K12 is 29 states). There are private online options. And learning can take place outside normal school hours. The only reason a parent would “have” to stay home is to replace the publicly provided childcare. It isn’t ideal, but neither is what he chose as an alternative.

      6. MissGirl*

        TL isn’t arguing that this teacher didn’t do something awful and shouldn’t be fired. He isn’t defending this man’s bad choice. He’s just giving the OP a way to frame this so that people can work with this person without wanting to tear him limb from limb, which is what a lot of people here seem to be supporting.

        Right or wrong, for the time being others in the district have to work with this guy. The shunning is causing a disruption according to the OP, which means kids aren’t getting the best education. Until the person is fired, others in the district have to do their best to work with a really crappy situation that isn’t their fault. I don’t envy them. I hope they can do what’s best for the children and the district does what’s best and hurry the teacher out.

        1. Prismatic Professional*

          Excellent summation. This is about practical aspects for the time being.

        2. Amy the Rev*

          Exactly! It could even be framed as having compassion for the children: in order to minimize disruption for the children & their education [which it sounds like the overt shunning is causing], it might be necessary for the co-workers to try and compartmentalize their anger (however justified) during the school day until this teacher is gone or on leave. They’ve already suffered enough (in terms of being potentially exposed to viruses, etc), they don’t need to be exposed to the vitriol of grown-ups on top of that.

        3. Lissa*

          Yeah, I hate what this guy did but I don’t really see why this guy needs *more* of a punishment than firing (I mean, TL is saying he should be fired so what else do people want if they are disagreeing with them?) I also see this as way way worse than the norovirus lady because that could be a mistake/one time bad judgment call. This was really planned out!

          But I do get a bit confused when people say “no!” to reply to a post that says “But it is possible to say that he should be both punished and treated with compassion or kindness. One can do both simultaneously.” it is possible! You might not want to do it here or feel that way yourself, but it’s possible!

          1. jwg*

            There are also people who would argue that shunning can be an effective way to show this man just how serious his actions were. He may have gone into this thinking it “wasn’t that big a deal” or that it “wouldn’t *actually* affect anyone” – but for him to see that this is actually something that affects an awful lot of people in his community in a negative way might actually be a useful thing in terms of convincing him to vaccinate – because it stands to reason that unless/until he vaccinates his child, this particular community will continue to feel fear. It may take him coming around and showing them that he is willing to do his part in keeping up the herd immunity to protect the community, for the community to begin to build trust again.

            I’m not saying that shunning is exactly a kind thing to do – but my guess is that the community is genuinely upset, likely feels betrayed, and probably feels a significant amount of fear. Let’s also not forget here that the man (teacher!) who put people (children!) at risk is *also* lacking in compassion.

            1. TL -*

              Here’s the thing: if you genuinely believe that vaccines harm children, if that is what you honestly think, then you are not putting other people’s children at risk (in your head/logic space.) He may not be lacking compassion; he may truly believe that he is taking a stance for the best decisions for all children everywhere.

              Yes, that’s a hard line to swallow from the other end – the one where vaccines save lives and especially if you have an immunocompromised kid himself – but it is probably exactly what he’s thinking.

              It’s also possible to convey disappointment, anger, and loss of trust without Scarlet A type shunning. All of which are being conveyed to him, quite well, by the sounds of it. I don’t think the OP needs advice on how to make him feel worse.

              1. lokilaufeysanon*

                He is not entitled to people’s friendships or association. People have every right to decide for themselves that they don’t want to have anything to do with him. If he honestly believes in what he believes, he needs to accept that. It may be hard line for him to swallow, but he needs to swallow it. This doesn’t mean be nasty to him. They can simply only talk to him when they have to so long as they are professional about it. That’s about all anyone can ask for, anyway, at the end of the day. If I were his co-worker, I would do the bare minimum if I had to, but I’m not asking about his day or making small talk with him. Vaccination debate aside, this guy broke a rule, stole a realtive’s kid’s medical records and forged them to make it look like his own kid’s so his kid could go to school, despite not meeting all the requirements. That is a disgusting level of dishonesty, in my opinion, and not someone I would want to associate with unless I absolutely had to.

                And while people are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts.

                1. TL -*

                  Right, yup, which is why I said (several times) that OP needs to set the standard for professional behavior but cooled-off attitudes are fine.

                  Nobody’s arguing for his coworkers to be friends, but saying he’s essentially a compassionate-less monster is not at all addressing the case at hand.

                  And of course he is not entitled to his own facts. That’s why he’s being fired.

                2. Amy the Rev*

                  Agreed- limiting interactions to what is only professionally necessary isn’t the same as shunning, and one can have compassion about a situation or person without being friends with a person, or even liking, or even respecting them.

              2. M-C*

                I don’t have much sympathy here for the argument “if you honestly believe that vaccines harm children..”. This is not a matter of belief, it’s a matter of scientific fact. The misguided person’s beliefs are irrelevant, not to mention his honesty is the sticking point here.

                But this is a teacher. Would you like any loony being able to inflict their “honest beliefs” on the helpless children they are supposed to teach? Teach them creationism? Teach them the earth is flat? Where do you stop the lies?

                The fact that this one’s lies also physically endangered the children makes the situation even worse. But the sincerity of your beliefs does not negate reality, nor does it excuse using dishonesty to support those supposedly sincere beliefs.

            2. Amy the Rev*

              @jwg- Scientific American recently published an article about how to convince folks about something when they wont believe the facts. It basically said that we need to make an appeal to values, which for many folks are stronger than facts. I don’t think shunning is going to work in this case, because it isn’t addressing his underlying values (which I assume are something along the lines of ‘parents-not government- know whats best for their children’), and likely wouldn’t lead him to ‘come around’, just retreat from the community and reinforce the feelings of persecution that are often present in the more ardent anti-vaxxers (and i’d say he’s pretty ardent if he’s willing to forge documents). Plus, his child, who has had very little, if any, say in this, would absolutely notice and feel the effects of his parent being shunned by his friends’ parents and his teachers. That’s not fair to the kiddo, and may have some really unfortunate and unintended long term effects for him psychologically.

              1. Ginger*

                Actually studies have shown that shunning and treating the idea of not vaccinated as stupid as it is, does increase rates of vaccination. Being nice, explain why, that does not work. Shunning, does work.

          2. Halpful*

            But I do get a bit confused when people say “no!” to reply to a post that says “But it is possible to say that he should be both punished and treated with compassion or kindness. One can do both simultaneously.” it is possible! You might not want to do it here or feel that way yourself, but it’s possible!

            I suspect it’s a sort of… overgrown defense mechanism. There are times when I’ve felt incredibly uncomfortable with even the *idea* of compassion for someone, and in retrospect, it was because I needed to stay angry for my own safety. The more I build healthy boundaries and learn to protect myself with words, the less I need anger, and the easier it is to trust myself to be compassionate and stay safe at the same time. Heck, sometimes recently I’ve felt anger and compassion at the same time! :) A more constructive sort of anger, instead of the hulk-smash kind that came more naturally to me.

            1. Oranges*

              YAY for boundaries! And using words. They’re harder than one would think. Congrats!

              For me, an intense anger like that destroys me so I learned quickly how to defuse it. The fastest way for me was pity/compassion.

              Thank you for telling me how you use emotion for safety and why compassion might not be the answer for some people.

      7. Anon for this*

        As someone who chose not to vaccinate our kids, I don’t see the motivation to commit fraud. It’s horrible to have to choose and I am deeply unhappy with the new laws (in my area) requiring vaccinations for school, but laws are laws and people must figure out how to comply with the laws.

        Life is full of difficult choices, nothing is ideal. In this case: either vaccinate the child, homeschool, or move to a place where vaccinations are not a requirement for school. Follow the rules / laws. The parent should be fired for committing fraud. He has shown a willingness to lie and deceive. It would be difficult to work with such a person.

        1. Amy the Rev*

          I haven’t seen a single commenter advocating for him not to be fired, and furthermore the OP isn’t asking about what the consequences should be, as it sounds like she doesn’t have that power, but how to manage the reaction from coworkers so that the children’s school experience is minimally disrupted.

      8. Psychdoc*

        That is an excellent point. I have such a strong stance on vaccines that I forget that people against them are (often) terrified that vaccines will kill their children and are acting from a place of love and concern, just like I am when I vaccinate my kids. Like others say, that doesn’t excuse the behavior, but may help develop some empathy/understanding towards the teacher.

    2. LKW*

      I don’t see them as similar at all. The teacher forged paperwork. This kind of manipulation is unacceptable. An employee and an employer have some tacit agreements: That an attorney has passed the bar, that a professor has either the requisite professional experience or has earned their PhD. That when a person puts a dependent on their insurance, they actually know that person and they’re not getting coverage for their neighbor’s cousins’ kid. This guy falsified paperwork in the district where he works. I have no sympathy.

      1. TamiToo*

        It is possible that, depending on the guidelines of the State, his teaching license may be in jeopardy. Teachers are often subject to higher moral standards inside and outside the classroom. If someone reports this to whomever is in charge of teacher conduct and licensing in that State, he may be sanctioned and may lose his license.

    3. kittymommy*

      I agree. I do not say this sarcastically I promise, as someone who does not have or does not want children, dude needs to be gone. A parent has a right to decide vaccinations for their child, and accept the repercussions thereof. But the guy deliberately and knowingly lied. removing the topic of the lie, the lie itself is still a bog deal. That in and itself Is an issue of integrity.

    4. To*

      I struggle with this person’s role. Meaning that the forms are required as a PARENT, and if a parent did this, there would be different consequences. I get that he works there. Did the other parent do this? What happens to other parents? THAT should happen to him. This is school records and internal investigation, which is not for public consumption.

      Calling for firing is out-of-round. His credibility has been challenged. He will live with that, and must conduct himself in a manner that redeems himself from the discovery of fraud. His colleagues should be professional, lest they act on too little information and find themselves responding to a retaliation claim. Civility goes a long way toward restoring sanity to the workplace here. I’m not saying the matter should go unacknowledged employment-wise. A letter of reprimand may have him seeking employment elsewhere while living down the embarrassment of being caught

      1. hedonia*

        I disagree. Not only did he act illegally and unethically, but he quite literally put other children’s lives at risk. One can, apparently, legally put one’s OWN children’s lives at risk — but how many parents of children who had immune issues sent them to school “knowing” that all of the children there were vaccinated?!

        It makes me sick to my stomach to think of my godson, who is undergoing chemo again but still attending school when he can, being exposed to a disease that shouldn’t be present at all and which could KILL him.

        Firing should be the smallest consequence here — there should absolutely be charges against him for fraud, theft, forging documents, identity theft, whatever.

      2. an anon*

        I disagree. He should experience the consequences any other parent would face for forging documents. But he should also experience consequences as an employee.

        Think of it this way. What if the question was “my employee covered up for a parent who submitted forged documents” orr “my employee knowingly accepted forged documents”? The issue is not whether his personal values are not a good fit for the employer; the issue is the deceit and the actions taken that work against the best interest of the employer.

      3. JHunz*

        It’s totally reasonable to hold employees to the standard that they should not commit fraud in their own workplace, whether that fraud is in the context of acting as an employee or acting as a customer. A CPA who submitted fraudulent tax returns to be processed by a coworker would be fired, an ISP technician who turns on cable at his home’s location without paying for it would be fired, and so should this teacher.

  2. LoiraSafada*

    This, to me, is more egregious than the person that attended the conference. No way should this guy be keeping his job. Very few people are going to be able or willing to trust him on this basis.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      I would expect that his ability to keep his job will depend a lot on union rules and a very bureaucratic and drawn out discipline process. It might be years before this is settled.

      1. AMG*

        In the meantime, if I were a parent there, I would be so far up the school board’s a## about having him on school grounds, he’d be off campus for the vast majority of that time. I can imagine I would be far from the only person.

        1. VroomVroom*

          100% agree and my kid isn’t even born yet.

          I was interviewing pediatricians and my first question was their vaccination policy. If they expressed any sort of lenience (except in cases of immunocompromised kids) I refuse to bring my kid to their office and therefore didn’t choose them.

          The office I chose has a zero tolerance policy (again, except in immunocompromised cases). If I *ever* found out that a teacher at a school my kid was going to had done something like this, I’m pretty sure I’d be in jail for assault on said teacher.

          1. VroomVroom*

            To be clear – by something like this it doesn’t have to be ‘forged vaccination records’ I just mean – anything that potentially put my kid’s health and safety at risk.

            I’m a mama bear and she’s not even born yet.

          2. VroomVroom*

            Also I wouldn’t seriously be in jail for assault (that wouldn’t help my kid), I’m figure-of-speech-ing here… but I would fantasize SO HARD about assaulting said teacher.

      2. SouthernLadybug*

        If he has a union. In my state there are very few. And teachers don’t have one.

      3. BPT*

        Yeah about half the states in the US are right to work states, so I wouldn’t just assume he has a union.

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          “Right to work” doesn’t mean “no union”, though, it only means that you can’t be compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Most RTW states still have teachers’ unions in some districts. (The NEA has affiliates in all 50 states, FYI.)

          1. BPT*

            Right, but effectively means that there is no union that has negotiating power in most of these states. It may not outlaw unions, but just because the NEA is there doesn’t mean it’s effective or that they have power to require a teacher be kept on.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              But it does mean that there’s likely a union contract (CBA) that governs the process for termination for this level of malfeasance and deception.

              It’s possible OP works at a public charter or another “fusion” school where CBAs are less common (depending on the state), but I was curious about whether there were procedural requirements re: placing the teacher on unpaid leave pending his dismissal/termination. Those requirements need not be union-dependent, but it would be helpful to know.

  3. The IT Manager*

    It would be different if he didn’t also work for the school district (so the forgery was unrelated to his job), but he does. So I’m in total agreement that this guy should be fired. I’m inclined to think that you make it happen ASAP because unless you can give him a stand-alone job with zero interaction you’re wasting money paying this guy. His reputation is rightfully shot and understandably people don’t want to work with him

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Honestly, if I found out one of my employees forged documents to get their kid accepted into school, I would probably fire them because I wouldn’t trust them. The fact that he works for the school district makes it worse, but I have serious concerns about his integrity. If he’s willing to do that, how do I know that he’s going to follow my work policies?

      1. LoiraSafada*

        It’s a sign of extremely poor judgement either way. Forging documents of any kind, for any reason, is a huge red flag.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Teacher contracts often do have broad statements about moral fit for the job and the requirement to follow all school rules, so his actions could be explicitly related to his job even though the forged papers were done in his capacity as a parent – teachers have to follow all schools rules, period. (Not that it has to be explicitly job-related to be a fireable offense here.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep. He did not follow the school’s rules–that’s the sticking point. If they made an exception for him, they’d have to do it for everyone. And if vaccination (or any other admittance requirement) is mandatory where they live, then he also disregarded laws (public health) and/or ordinances as well.

            1. Allison*

              Yep. Not only are the pro-vaccination parents going to be upset, I’ll bet the parents who are against vaccines are going to be angry if the school makes an exception for his kid, and letting his kid continue attending school, while most unvaccinated kids don’t have that option. There may even be some parents who had concerns about vaccines, but ended up vaccinating their kids so they could go to school, that may now be thinking “well gee, all I had to do was forge the immunization form like that guy, who knew?” or “oh my kids needed to get vaccinated but the teachers’ kids don’t, typical!”

            2. ToS*

              They do have to cure the situation with the student, full stop. No exception there, it should be by-the-book.

      2. Murphy*

        It was a document that was submitted to his place of employment, which it makes it somewhat work related, I think.

      3. Mike C.*

        Uh, not only are these documents related to work, but they’re done as an issue of public health. Why aren’t people taking this more seriously?

          1. fposte*

            Union, maybe? Otherwise I got nothin’–I agree that this should have been an immediate firing.

            1. PB*

              Tenure is also a possibility. My father is a teacher. In his first year, a teacher at his school had to be fired for violating individual education plans of students with learning disabilities. This is a major violation, but she had tenure. They were able to get her out of the school eventually, but it took almost a full year.

              1. Jessesgirl72*

                It would be possible, but unlikely, for a teacher with a young child to have tenure.

                Even teachers with decades of experience are most commonly hired on one-year contracts. That is how the school board makes problems like this go away without having to fight the union. He may never actually be fired- they just will decline to renew his contract for next year.

                1. Michael*

                  Depends a lot on where you are – in NYC public schools (where I am) this is very much not the case.

                2. BeautifulVoid*

                  As a former teacher who knows a TON of teachers (including my husband), this has not been my experience at all. Maybe it varies by state/region, but in my area, you’re eligible for tenure once you’ve taught full-time for three years in the same district. So at least before the economy tanked and there were tons of budget cuts, it was plausible to have a bunch of 25-year-old tenured teachers. My husband got tenure a few years before we had kids, and his cousins (both teachers) were the same.

                  And yeah, once that magic tenure is granted, unless there are budget cuts across the board, it is INCREDIBLY difficult to fire someone. Especially in districts with a strong teachers’ union. I’ve seen things, man. Seen things. In fact, while I’m appalled by everything this guy did, if he worked where I used to work, I am fairly certain he’d keep his job, much to the dismay of his colleagues and students’ parents.

                3. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  Hm. In my state, Jessesgirl, that isn’t how it works exactly, so I think it is really overstating to say that’s how it most commonly works. Here, yes, teachers are offered 1 year contracts, but the contract itself requires that the school renew the contract annually as long as the teacher has worked in district as a teacher for 3 years (except for budget reasons or for cause).

                4. Jessesgirl72*

                  Not only do I know a lot of teachers and am related to teachers, I’m also related to NEA reps at various levels (from statewide to district wide) in 3 separate areas of the country. The default is absolutely moving toward one-year contracts that don’t have to be renewed, because they all talk and lament about it.

                  Every teacher has horror stories of the stuff pulled by those with tenure. There is a reason for the change.

              2. Sami*

                Tenure is going by the way of the dodo bird. Many states have enacted right-to-work legislation that affects teachers. Additionally, every school district has a contract with its teachers that’s different from every other district. So to speculate on that aspect is near impossible.

              3. Noah*

                Even in places that have tenure, you can fire teachers for committing crimes like those committed here: fraud and possibly perjury.

                1. Chaordic One*

                  With tenure, teachers are entitled to receive a hearing and their union will often pay for legal representation for the accused teacher. If the teacher truly is unfit to teach, and if the administration (usually principals and vice-principals) have done their due diligence and documented the specific incidents for why a teacher should be let go, the teacher is nearly always out-the-door and not coming back.

                  OTOH, a lot of administrators don’t bother. Then the result is bad teachers who end up staying put.

              4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Tenure doesn’t protect you from being fired for cause—it just provides additional process protections beyond whatever baseline protections someone has as a public employee (assuming this is a traditional public school).

            2. Chinook*

              Speaking as a former teacher who worked under a Professional College system, it is possible that he may need to be called before the Ethics Board before he can have his certificate/license pulled. So, I could see the union arguing that due process needs to take place first.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Not really. It depends a lot on where you live as to how hard it is to fire teachers and how hard it is to fire employees in other fields.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Agreed with JB—it’s not categorically harder to fire teachers, particularly when compared to other public employees (e.g., police and corrections officers).

              Almost all public employees have due process protections when they’re being fired, even if they’re fired for cause. And in places where unions still have bargaining power, it can be difficult to fire a tenured teacher without cause. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible; it just requires greater process (and oftentimes school districts will want to hire an attorney to assist because they don’t want to get any of the steps wrong).

              Given the severity of this behavior, though, I’m a little surprised that the teacher hasn’t been placed on leave or that proceedings haven’t been expedited.

          1. fposte*

            I read Mike as meaning “people in charge of firing this guy” and this being a way to ask why he wasn’t fired already.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Oh, I thought it was responsive to the comment saying “it’s not like he forged a work document,” as if that somehow absolves him of censure.

      4. Detective Amy Santiago*

        How do you know he never did? If he’s willing to do it in one facet of his life, why wouldn’t he do it at work too?

        1. JustaTech*

          This! If I were his boss I would be going through *all* of his paperwork with a fine toothed comb. His teaching certificate, his transcripts, heck, maybe even his background check. He’s an admitted forger, so he has no credibility and gets no benefit of the doubt.

      5. Temperance*

        In a way, he did, though. He forged official documentation that legally needed to be provided to his employer, who happens to be a public school district.

      6. Elizabeth H.*

        In most (all?) places, teachers’ children are allowed to attend the public school they work at even if the physical residence is in a different public school district. From the way the question is set up I have the impression that this is the situation here. So I think the conditions on which his child is attending the school are even more directly tied to his employment than they would be if he just lived in the district and this would be the public school the kids attended anyway. It makes a little bit of a difference to me.

        1. dawbs*

          That’s interesting–because I’ve never heard that.
          My dad’s a teacher and my mom worked in education in a different district–and we would not have been allowed to attend in either of those districts just because of that.
          I’m not saying it isn’t the case, but, can you tell me where?
          Because I’ve never ever heard of that around here.

          1. Anon teacher*

            I live in Georgia and I’m a teacher and that’s the case here – teachers’ kids can go to the school their parents work at, as well as any feeder schools (so if the mom is an elementary teacher, they can go to the middle and high school that the elementary school feeds to).

          2. Nic*

            As a child in Louisiana I attended schools in several districts that were not my home district because they were where my parents taught. Seems to vary by state.

          3. Elizabeth H.*

            I’m from Massachusetts and public school teachers here can have their kids go to the school they teach at. Like if I lived in South Hadley but my mom taught in a Northampton high school I could go to the Northampton high school.
            I don’t mean going to Northampton high school no. 2 instead of Northampton high school no. 1, I mean actually the school in an entirely different town if your parent teaches there. That’s how it works here. It’s not super common to even have more than one high school or middle school in a town anyway.

            It makes sense if this system might not be the case somewhere like NYC where (to my impression) school districts and school choice are much more competitive and complicated.

            1. dawbs*

              I’m in MI, and even districts that have ‘school of choice’ (<lets not discuss that right now), I'm pretty sure it'd be hell on wheels to try to convince someone to let a kid cross a county line.

              I grew up in a small town, my dad taught in the next town over (didn't want us attending where he taught. politics and the fact that, small town, we would have HAD to have him as a teacher and he didn't want that), and my parents deliberately made sure we were in a different county so even during redistricting, that wouldn't change.
              (My mom worked for the 'big city' school in our county and I know without a doubt that wasn't an option, because they tried through the 'school of choice' things that existed at the time)

              School stuff here is VERY localized, obviously

        2. doreen*

          Are you talking a different district or a different zone? Because while I can very easily see School District A allowing someone who teaches in Public school 1 to have their child attend there rather than in School District A’s Public School 2, I find it a little harder to believe that it’s common for School District A to accept a teacher’s child who lives in School District B. I know for certain NYC doesn’t allow it – teachers and principals have ended up resigning or getting fired over it. Because in order to register their kids who live in New Jersey or Long Island in NYC schools without paying tuition, they had to present fraudulent documents.

      7. The IT Manager*

        Yes. He forged the document as a parent, but it was submitted to the school system which is also his employer so he forged a document that he gave to his employer.

      8. NW Mossy*

        He’s a teacher, and part of how teachers create a foundation of trust with their students, fellow faculty, and administration is by conducting themselves in accordance with the rules and policies of the school. He not only didn’t do that, but proactively engaged in a deception to cover up the truth because it served him personally to do so. While you drew a line at work documents vs. personal documents, I don’t see any particular reason why those in a position to evaluate his misdeeds need assume that this teacher also sees such a boundary and wouldn’t cross it.

      9. Taylor Swift*

        Employers can and should be able to make decisions based on employee actions, even if they’re not related to work. Like, if he murdered somebody but it wasn’t related to work, should he keep his job?

        1. Ange*

          I actually had precisely this conversation with a student when we were looking at fitness to practice hearings for my profession. Someone had been convicted of murder of a family member and subsequently struck off, and the student felt it was unfair to strike him off because he hadn’t killed a patient.
          I couldn’t even find the words to explain to the student why patients might not want to be treated by someone who was a convicted murderer.

          1. Former Employee*

            I suppose an exception might be if a child killed their abusive parent in self-defense or to save their other parent or a sibling from that abusive parent, which is known as defense of another.

      10. LKW*

        What if he forged paperwork claiming a dependent and claimed insurance? What if he used an address that changed his taxes (I’m thinking cross state lines)? Sheesh, for all we know if a child is not vaccinated, they have to pay a higher premium for insurance. I may be reaching but I have no patience for this. It’s not like they would be thrown in jail for not vaccinating, but they didn’t want to deal with the consequences of their decisions. Consequences simply being – their child could not attend the school.

      11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The forgery is certainly related to his job, but even if it weren’t, he knowingly submitted a falsified governmental/public health document to his employer when he knows that vaccination is mandatory. This is a Very. Big. Deal.

      12. VroomVroom*

        It’s not like he forged work documents though, but he forged something that goes against his employer’s policies. So, while it wasn’t about *his job* it still is related to his job, simply because he works for the school district.

        If he didn’t work for the school district, all they could do would be suspend the kid until they could provide legitimate vaccination records (if ever), since they’d have no recourse on the parents. (TBH if I were his boss, even if he didn’t work for the school district, and I found out about something so egregiously fraudulent – and potentially even criminal! – like this, I’d probably not trust his judgement and fire him anyway).

        BUT he works for the school district. And willingly/knowingly forged something to bypass his employer’s policy.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      The union controls how quickly the guy can be fired, not the OP. She just has to deal with the fall out in the meantime.

      Honestly, OP, just suspend him with pay until he’s fired.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        She didn’t say one way or another if the teachers are unionized, did she?

    3. Noah*

      I don’t think it would be any different. The guy committed fraud, a crime of moral turpitude. There may even be a sworn declaration on the form, in which case he also committed perjury. That seems like a non-starter for working with children.

    4. Irene*

      I don’t think I would accept forgery from any employee. I want to/need to trust the employees I have.

  4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    What kind of disruption are we talking about? Sadfeels and blowback? Work not getting done?

    And yes, I’d blow this guy out the airlock like that guy on the Expanse. PCHSSSSSSS AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa*

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I’ve read all the books, so I’ve been bingeing hard on it. SUCH a good show. Although, weirdly, my mental image of just about everything in the books is different. It’s helping me that the show diverges from the chronology of the books.

        1. Manders*

          I’m on Nemesis Games now. And yeah, I definitely imagined the protomolecule’s structures as grosser and less vividly colored, and I didn’t picture Alex and Amos as young and handsome.

          (Sorry Alison, I’ll get back on topic now. Although The Expanse would be a great case study for fictional bosses, both excellent and terrible.)

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            “Dear Alison: my boss recently broadcast explosive allegations to the entire solar system and started a war. I don’t think it’s my place to criticize him, but I don’t think he fully realizes that this kind of thing affects morale. He’s otherwise a great boss, and the team has been through some stressful times lately, so I don’t want to cause a rift. What should I do?”

            And yeah, I totally had some drippy, glistening HR Giger shit in mind for the protomolecule.

            1. Manders*

              “Dear Alison: my boss is constantly cursing in the office. She looks like such a sweet old lady, but the way she talks to other departments is just embarrassing! Also, I think she may be trying to start an interplanetary war. Should I say something to her about her language? I can’t go to HR, and the only person ahead of her in this organization is the UN secretary general.”

            2. Anonymous 40*

              Not to make the derailing worse, but….yeah, that’s exactly what I imagined, too. I need to go back and finish season one now. I quit after three or four episodes because everyone looked so different from what I imagined and I stubbornly didn’t want the show’s very “Hollywood” versions of the characters replacing my versions.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, I normally bend over backwards for employees due to the massive power imbalance but airlock seems appropriate here. You don’t forge documents that otherwise ensure people are protected from highly infectious diseases – you could easily have students who are or have family who are immunocompromised.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        Btw, I wanted to say that I know you usually come down on the side of employees in questions of employer rules/regulations, as you alluded to here, but even though often times I don’t agree, I always appreciate having this perspective in a debate. I really like the range of perspectives we typically have here on the site with people looking at situations from different angles.

  5. Anonymous Poster*

    Forging documentation is such a big deal to me. How do I know if this individual isn’t forging a great many other things, or fudging other requirements of the job?

    In the meantime, is administrative leave or something where this person stays out of the school all together an option? While I’m sure the disciplinary process will take a bit of time, getting this person physically out of the office removes this individual from the work environment. I understand this person’s coworkers wanting to not work with someone that violated these sorts of trust barriers and shunning this individual. This person has compromised their ability to operate effectively in this environment through lying. I’d do the same thing, because I don’t want to work with a liar! And there’s the added factor of health issues affecting not just me personally but children, and possibly my own.

    Anyway, what can this person do effectively being physically in the building? I’d suggest letting the person stay home while the disciplinary process plays out, it removes a trust violation from the workplace.

    Good luck!

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Yeah. It sounds like this OP is a principal. Why not have this guy, like, make copies for everyone and sweep the gym until the process is resolved? At this point, he’s infectious medical waste. I don’t blame his coworkers for the hard shun, and if he’s still got to do stuff that requires working with them, everyone’s gonna have a bad time.

      1. Ghostwriter*

        OP, can you clarify whether the teacher has been vaccinated? And does your state require it for teachers?

        1. TL -*

          The teacher has probably been vaccinated; he wouldn’t have had any choice in the matter as a child and the current backlash to vaccination is recent enough that most people in the working world have vaccinated parents.

          1. Kriss*

            most of the places I’ve subbed have required the teachers to be vaccinated for TB on a regular basis & whooping cough if they are working with young children. this might be what Ghostwriter is referencing re: the teacher’s vaccinations.

            1. Blurgle*

              Yep: a lot of people don’t yet realize that the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t convey life-long immunity. Boosters are imperative, especially for anyone working with children (and above all babies!).

              1. TL -*

                But I don’t think it’s required for teachers to get tDaP boosters in most states; at least not primary school teachers. (Daycares and pre-school might have different rules but none of my teacher friends have talked about being required to get a booster and a quick search for my state shows no requirements.)

                1. Teapot Unionist*

                  It is hard to even require nurses to be vaccinated as part of their terms of employment. Teachers usually have to show proof of TB screening and that is it.

      2. Jerry Vandesic*

        If he is in a union there is no way he would be sweeping the gym. More likely is that he would be sitting in a room, doing nothing, but still collecting a check.

        1. Anonymous Poster*

          Yes, this is what I was thinking would be at play. If the offender is fired immediately without going through the disciplinary process and is part of a union, that may be a good way to ensure he always has a job in the district due to not following the guidelines. At least some unions I’m aware of, even if they think the guy should not be teaching there, will still demand that the process be followed to preserve it for whomever may be going through it next. And then they’d happily let the guy get fired for doing something like this, as long as the process is fired.

          I don’t want to ask for more details because that might put the OP in an uncomfortable situation since these things can get highly specific, and I’m sure they are following the established disciplinary process to do what’s needed to this individual. But in the meantime, I’d suggest some sort of administrative leave and telling the teaching staff they are expected to maintain professionalism in the workplace and in front of their children. They’re setting an example, and being calm and civil is a great example, even if you have severe personal issues with someone else’s behavior. It’ll also help those children learn how to handle their own emotions when things like this come up, and is a great teaching opportunity.

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            I thought of something similar, although I assumed that the school was just required to keep paying him until the investigation is complete under union rules. So, since they were paying him anyway, they figured they would just re-purpose him into some administrative role during the investigation. But it doesn’t seem like there is any benefit to doing that, especially given the prevailing attitude toward him from the other employees.

            At this point, I agree that they need to just put him on paid leave while the investigation is ongoing, rather than trying to manage all of the other employees into working with him. Unless the union agreement specifically states that they need to find another job for him at the school in the interim.

          2. Creag an Tuire*

            At least some unions I’m aware of, even if they think the guy should not be teaching there, will still demand that the process be followed to preserve it for whomever may be going through it next. And then they’d happily let the guy get fired for doing something like this, as long as the process is followed.

            FYI, legally the union must take this approach — any union with exclusive bargaining rights for a unit (which is pretty much all of them), has a “duty of fair representation” for all members of that unit, meaning if there is a contractual process it must be enforced. (In “right-to-work” states, this is true even if the disciplinee is not a dues-paying member.)

            1. Anonymous Poster*

              Thanks for the clarification, I wasn’t sure if this was across the board or just specific to the unions that I know a few more details about.

        2. Mike C.*

          Could we at least make this teacher sit in a biology class? It’s clear that there is some knowledge lacking here.

        3. TootsNYC*

          The NYC school district has such a room where all teachers in this limbo spend their days.

          If you want to get your money’s worth out of him in the meantime, OP, can you come up w/ some research project to sic him on, researching curriculums? If you can still trust him…

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh man, there was a massive article about how much money NYC schools spent on these folks who were warehoused while on administrative leave (pending termination). It was a bit of a shock and awe piece, but I did wonder if there were other tasks they could have been given. Although I don’t know—I wouldn’t trust someone who did something like this to pay meter fare, let alone trust him to complete any other kind of task.

    2. Tuckerman*

      “Forging documentation is such a big deal to me. How do I know if this individual isn’t forging a great many other things, or fudging other requirements of the job?”
      That’s the kicker for me. If people are willing to forge paperwork for one belief, it makes me think they will override another rule to accommodate a belief. Perhaps this is an unfair assessment, but I would be concerned about potential interactions with students. For example, if this teacher did not vaccinate his child because he eschews “big pharma,” would he try to persuade an asthmatic child to use a natural remedy instead of an inhaler during an asthma attack?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Or he could be one of those people who doesn’t believe in allergies and exposes a kid with a severe peanut allergy to a peanut butter sandwich.

      2. LKW*

        I wouldn’t go that far – but it is clear that this guy doesn’t think that the rules apply to him. So what other rules would he be willing to bend? Give the kids the answers on the tests so that he gets the highest score and thus meets any standards for merit pay?

        1. hedonia*

          See, I WOULD go that far, specifically because this is a ‘belief’ that has been so completely, thoroughly, and without a doubt DEBUNKED that he must have some kind of … issue… with facts, right? This isn’t a “some people think A, some people think B” situation.

          No one has the right to alternative facts. Period. When you reveal yourself to be massively irrational in one area, all other areas are now suspect.

  6. I am a tailors apprentice*

    WOW! My trust in his ability to follow the rules of the school district would be shattered with this news. It’s one thing to have anti-vaccine views and to make that decision for your own family, but he didn’t do that here. He decided he didn’t want to vaccinate and then boldly forged the vaccination records to have his child enrolled in the school. I agree with the call to have him fired. He thumbed his nose at the rules, blatantly lied, and now his behavior has disrupted things for the entire school. Just…WOW!

  7. 100% anon*

    I work for a public school district, and in cases like this, the employee goes on paid administrative leave, which removes him/her from the workplace while decisions about his/her future employment are made. MUCH less messy t just taking someone out of the classroom but leaving him/her in the workplace.

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      Yes, I was wondering if something like this was an option. I could see the snide comments now if this person was a copy monkey or janitor based on the circumstances. It’s just not worth it.

      Some sort of administrative leave where this person isn’t allowed in the building is a great option.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Agreed. I feel like that’s really the only realistic choice here.

    3. Manders*

      What would be done about the employee’s kid during that time? It seems like the law makes it clear that the kid can’t go to class without a proper vaccination record, but I’m assuming the law also doesn’t let parents keep kids out of school indefinitely for this reason.

      1. TL -*

        Well, the parents would eventually get charged with whatever parents get charged with because their kids aren’t enrolled in school (child neglect? some separate law?). The poor child will have to get vaccinated or be enrolled in a private school or homeschooled.

          1. Blurgle*

            Depending on where they live. I rather suspect the state in question here is Australian.

            1. Bunnymcfoo*

              Or California! The laws regarding vaccination here are seriously tough and as of 2016 the only exceptions allowed are medical ones.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Put the parent on administrative leave and let him teach his own kid at home — seems like a very efficient solution to me.

      2. Natalie*

        Eh, I don’t know that this would be the LW’s problem to solve. The local school authorities and the parents will deal with it.

      3. Mike C.*

        So I asked my brother about this, since he’s a teacher. He told me that the kid would likely be told to stay home until he was caught up on his shots.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Typically they pull the child out of school until the child comes into compliance. And in most states where there are compulsory attendance laws, if they don’t come into compliance within a certain time period, the parent has to demonstrate that the child is enrolled in some kind of educational program.

        It’s similar to sending a child home for having a very communicable condition/disease, like lice or chickenpox (although apparently kids don’t get that anymore b/c there’s a vaccine?).

    4. AnonAnalyst*

      Yeah, I honestly was surprised to hear he was still coming in during the investigation. I cannot see how paid administrative leave would be a worse option than what is happening right now since no one else in the school is willing to work with him.

      1. zora*

        Sometimes that part isn’t up to the principal, it’s decided way over their heads by the school district. The principal just has to deal with the person in their building until the final decision is made.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It could also be an issue of classroom coverage (although I agree—if I could, I’d put this person on paid admin leave in a heartbeat).

  8. TL -*

    I do understand that teachers are held to unreasonably high standards and it would be good to keep an eye out for anything that crosses the line from cold to cruel (yelling, cursing, mean pranks or violence), but he is, unfortunately, reaping what he sowed. And you could absolutely tell him that while you don’t condone or support his actions, you understand that he may be getting an outsized response due to his position in the community and you do want him to know that you don’t think he deserves additional punishment beyond what is meted out by the school board + loss of trust from his professional community.

    For perspective, his lie could have very well endangered an at-risk child in the school – if the school was assuring an immunocompromised child’s parents that everyone in their class was vaccinated and then it turns out that’s not true, that could be really hard to get over. I can see myself, in that situation, having a very outsized response and I know my friends would support me.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      To be fair, he could easily endanger a healthy, non-immunocompromised, vaccinated child, as well. Most vaccines ameliorate the risk of contracting a serious disease during childhood, but they also rely on herd immunity and are not a complete prophylaxis against becoming ill (Emi can correct me if I’m getting this wrong).

      There are awful stories of measles and other outbreaks in elementary schools where vaccinated children suffered grave and permanent health problems, including death.

      1. TL -*

        The risks of a healthy, non-immunocompromised vaccinated child catching something from an unvaxxed kid in a state where the vaccination compliance rates are well about 95% are very, very slim. The chances of that turning into a traceable serious complication are minuscule, if not smaller.

        Honestly, the chances of a immunocompromised child catching something from this child are also incredibly slim; it’s just that the chances of serious complications are so much higher that it’s a much bigger risk.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That’s true, but we don’t really know what compliance rates are where OP is—at the state level or locally. And as you noted, when we do a risk analysis, we have to take into account the severity of a bad outcome, even if the probability of that outcome is low. So low probability * high risk might still result in an outcome that decisionmakers find unacceptable.

          I might feel differently about this because I’m in California, where there have been a resurgence of children catching (and dying from) otherwise-preventable diseases because specific communities went below the herd immunity “tipping point.” In several outbreaks, you had high-compliance localities next to low-compliance localities, and those high-compliance areas suffered (although outbreaks didn’t then jump over to another high-compliance locale).

          I just think it’s worth acknowledging that a child need not be immunocompromised to suffer when exposed to unvaccinated people (or their close relatives).

          1. TL -*

            We actually do have a fairly good idea because the only two states that don’t allow any religious or personal exemptions (for the time period written about); both have extremely high compliance rates and no major pockets of non-compliance.

            Right; low probability*high risk is a completely different scenario than low probability*low risk, which is why I used the first scenario as a perspective moment. Healthy kids do get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases but this is usually caused by a high probability*low risk scenario (due to vaccination rates falling below the disease threshold plus usually a few other complicating factors.)

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              There are three states that don’t allow religious or personal exemptions, including one with large pockets of non-compliance. And sometimes schools (particularly if this is not a traditional public school) are allowed to adopt stricter standards than the state, so we also can’t be 100% sure that we’re talking about those three states. But I’ll refrain from additional commentary because I don’t think anything in our discussion contradicts what I originally stated.

              1. TL -*

                California’s law is so new that it probably doesn’t apply to this letter, so that leaves two states and the LW specifically says they live in a state with no non-medical exceptions.
                The big assumption is that they’re in the USA.

                1. Catherine*

                  And for what it’s worth, I’m in Australia, and there have been a bunch of recent changes requiring children to be vaccinated in order to attend childcare. Quite a lot of schools have similar rules. I assumed the letter writer was a fellow Australian.

  9. Allypopx*

    Is forging medical documents illegal? If so I don’t even think firing should be a question, and there’s a huge liability here if a case of the measles happens to break out and kills someone’s infant sibling.

    That’s a really, really big lie. You can’t blame people for not trusting him. But you can enforce a minimum standard of work and hold people accountable if it doesn’t get done, particularly if it doesn’t get done because they didn’t want to work with him.

    1. CR*

      I was thinking the same thing re: liability – this kid could unknowingly cause an epidemic around school.

    2. PollyQ*

      Yeah, any lawyers around? This seems like the kind of thing that should be illegal (IMHO, but IANAL.)

    3. Just Today*

      This is exactly what I wondered – in my state, vaccination documentation is issued by a governmental agency, so this would be forging government documents. That is (again, in my state) a crime. The issues of herd immunity and the merits of vaccination aside, he would be fired and cited.

    4. Amy the Rev*

      There was a famous first lady in the 90’s who was in some legal hot water when she seemed to have lied under oath by signing her daughter’s medical papers for college and neglecting to disclose the father’s MS….oh wait…

      1. Leslie Knope*

        Oh my gosh this is an amazing reference. Let’s discuss over a walk-and-talk. lolol.

      1. Chinook*

        In Canada, you are required to hold a valid teaching certificate from the College of Teachers. I could see forging documents like this causing you to be brought before the College Ethics Board for having breached our Professional Code of Conduct that include the following (from the Alberta Teacher’s Association website):
        – The teacher fulfills contractual obligations to the employer until released by mutual consent or according to law (and having your child validly vaccinated could be construed as a legal obligation even if not explicit under the union contract)
        – The teacher does not undermine the confidence of pupils in other teachers (such behavior could easily make students question the honesty of teachers)
        – The teacher recognizes the duty to protest through proper channels administrative policies and practices which the teacher cannot in conscience accept; and further recognizes that if administration by consent fails, the administrator must adopt a position of authority (they flat out contradicted the authority of the school district)
        – The teacher acts in a manner which maintains the honour and dignity of the profession. (she broke the law to get what she wanted, which is not dignified)
        – The teacher does not engage in activities which adversely affect the quality of the teacher’s professional service. (Again, she brought into question whether or not other teachers may be hiding something)

        Basically, I am surprised that this teacher is even allowed to hold a teaching position and still has her certificate.

        1. Anne (with an "e")*

          Of course, we do not know where the LW lives. In the sate of Georgia in order to have a valid teaching certificate an educator must abide by the Code of Ethics. If the teacher does not follow the Code of Ethics the teaching certificate can be invalidated. I assume that other states have similar requirements. According to The Georgia Code of Ethics Standard 4: Honesty – An educator shall exemplify honesty and integrity in the course of professional practice. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to, falsifying, misrepresenting or omitting:
          1. professional qualifications, criminal history, college or staff development credit and/or degrees, academic award, and employment history;
          2. information submitted to federal, state, local school districts and other governmental agencies;
          3. information regarding the evaluation of students and/or personnel;
          4. reasons for absences or leaves;
          5. information submitted in the course of an official inquiry/investigation; and 6. information submitted in the course of professional practice.

    5. LawCat*

      It depends on the laws of the state. Possibly enrollment fraud, which would be for prosecutors to go after.

      If anyone had actually been harmed, there may be a civil action, but proving causation would be a big, costly challenge.

      For the employer, when there’s a public school teacher, it’s probably going to depend on union contracts and/or civil service rules. I’d be shocked if this were not a fireable offense, but it’s really going to depend on the contract language, civil service rules, precedent, and the political will to carry out the firing. Administrative time off can be an excellent solution in the interim, but my experience is that higher ups can be hesitant to use it :-/

      1. TamiToo*

        Exactly, it will depend on the State, and the department that governs educator conduct. Educators are often held to higher standards than regular citizens. On duty and off-duty conduct may be considered at any time, depending on the State. While the school district may or may not consider this a terminable offense, the department that governs educator conduct may have a different opinion.

    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s almost certainly illegal. In the majority of states, forging medical documents/records is a crime regardless of whether a layperson does it or a medical professional does it—and forging immunization records falls within the definition of a “medical document” or “medical record.” And if the forgery is believable, as it was here, it likely passes the threshold for civil liability as well (e.g., if someone’s kid gets sick and the parents sue).

    7. JustaTech*

      Here’s my question: how did he get a hold of his niece or nephew’s vaccination record to copy it? Because if he took it out of the school files … well there’s a huge HIPPA violation right there, I would think.

  10. Elder Dog*

    Perhaps you can find a job for this guy that doesn’t require interaction with other teachers, or let him work from home. Can you put him in an empty office or furnish a closet with a desk and a phone so he can look for other employment (making it clear he won’t get a recommendation from this one) without interacting with other people?
    And do change his parking space to way out back. Maybe you can change his hours? Let him work evenings and weekends?

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I said above: have him make everybody’s copies. Teachers love that.

    2. Christy*

      But why? Why should OP do that for this person? (I feel like I’m being short with you but really, I just want to know your reasoning.)

      1. Natalie*

        “His child has been taken out of school and he is facing disciplinary action. Until that process happens, he is still employed by the district.”

        It sounds like the OP cannot fire him immediately, so he has to do something.

  11. Sibley*

    Honestly, I wouldn’t want to work this guy either. He lied about getting his child vaccinated, enrolled the child in school, and thus potentially exposed other children who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons to preventable illnesses. Plus, he committed forgery in the process!

    Shunning isn’t nice. But it is effective in controlling individual’s behavior, and he’s experiencing the foreseeable effects of dishonest and unethical, not to mention illegal, behavior. He brought this on himself.

    (Context – my sister has an immune issue that is still being determined. We don’t know if vaccines work for her or not yet, so herd immunity is very important for her right now.)

  12. AnotherHRPro*

    If forging a document is not grounds for termination, I’m not sure what is. This employee was dishonest, was purposefully violating state law and putting other children at risk (when as a teacher, I would think that protecting children would be a core job responsibility).

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      And as this situation is currently causing a disruption, I would put him out on a leave of absence (paid or unpaid depending on your organization’s norms) until you finalize what your course of action will be.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      Could he be fired if he had forged the same documents if his child that to a private school? Would the School district be able to discipline a teacher for something the did outside of their job responsibilities?

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Yes, in many districts, contracts allow for entirely off-site behavior to be fireable.

      2. Natalie*

        Based on past incidences of that happening, I’d guess that it’s more common for teachers to be discliplined for things outside of their job responsibilities than the average Joe at an insurance company.

      3. AnotherHRPro*

        Possibly. It would depend on what type of code of conduct they have and if they are unionized, what their contract states.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It depends, but in many districts that are strict about vaccinations, the answer is yes.

        Even though the teacher may be vaccinated, if his child contracts something on the vaccination list, it’s very likely that the employee will introduce those germs into the school where he works. That defeats the purpose of the mandatory vaccination policy and puts everyone at risk (it’s less of a risk than having an unvaccinated child in the school itself, but it’s still a serious one).

    3. Aealias*

      This touches on what I see as the key issue, and the reason this teacher is getting the cold shoulder from other school staff.

      Teachers are generally held to a very high standard of conduct. School districts on North America have fired teachers (recently!) for having a Facebook picture that features a glass of alcohol. Others have been disciplined for entering art photos in a nude-human-figures contest. Teachers are expected to be role models. In my jurisdiction, teachers are legally “on duty” 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and any public behaviours any time, anywhere, can impact on the teacher’s public image and therefore their job.

      Teachers AGREE to this, even the parts that are ridiculous on the face. They hold themselves to a high standard and expect it of each other. A teacher who engages in a crime is an embarrassment, and may be seen to be dragging down the whole profession – so his colleagues may be feeling professionally and PERSONALLY betrayed.

      Finally, colleagues may be (consciously or subconsciously) distancing themselves from someone who messed up so royally for fear of being tarred by association. Being perceived by the community to have sided with this guy prior to his (hopeful) firing could have negative repercussions for colleagues day-to-day life and local career.

  13. Noah*

    Forgery is a big deal to me. It would make me questions what else he is willing to fake to get the job done.

    We had a trainer at my company at the end of 2016 who was found to have used creative documentation on some OJT records. I’m 99% certain the training was actually completed and she was just lazy about the paperwork until the end of the 60 day training period. However, since it was brought to light we had to send several new hires back through the OJT process, at a considerable expense. It also meant shifting the schedule around because those on OJT cannot fill a position on the schedule.

    While she was not fired, her trainer status was removed and her pay went down because of that. It will likely also hurt any advancement here for her.

    1. not really a lurker anymore*

      Yeah, I’d be looking at his transcripts and checking any degrees, certifications and licenses he may have. If he lied/forged on his child’s vaccinations, would he lie/forge on something else? I’d be checking everything.

      I also wonder if he’s cheated on his taxes but would probably let that slide.

  14. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


    Honestly, this is the kind of thing that administrative leave was made for, and I don’t feel like it would be an overreach to use it in this case. What he did is bananas, and I honestly don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to touch him with a ten-foot pole. I mean, we’re talking broken laws here, not just company policy.

    I mean, honestly. As I’ve copped before, I’m a Christian Scientist. Lots of non-vaccinating in my religious circle. I’ve got a certain level of sympathy for not wanting to go down that road — I’m honestly probably the closest to sympathetic he’s gonna get on this site. But amping it up to breaking the law and committing bucketloads of forgery is jawdroppingly unacceptable.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Do your local schools require vaccinations? If so, how do the folks in your circle handle that?

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Many states (actually, it might be *every* state) have exemptions to the vaccine requirement for religious or medical reasons. Some even have exemptions for “philosophical” or personal reasons.

        1. Helen*

          Not sure where OP is, but in Mississippi there are no religious or philosophical exemptions allowed. Medical exemptions are allowed but the requirements are strict and I think you have to have a doctor re-certify the exemption every year.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Yes, I just looked – MS and WV are the only states that do not allow a religious exemption. I was wrong, I thought it was every state!

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yeah, I was going to say this. California recently eliminated the religious/personal belief exemption, as well.

        2. Temperance*

          My state has religious/philosophical exemptions available. I had to take one for law school because my vaccination records were never transferred from my childhood PCP when he shut his practice down.

        3. Allison*

          I am curious what people in states without those exceptions do. If you can’t get an exemption, is homeschooling the only option or are there private schools that don’t require immunizations?

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            We obey the law. If religious exemptions aren’t allowed, we vaccinate.

          2. SusanIvanova*

            Sometimes they find a doctor who’ll sign off on a medical exemption that doesn’t exist. IIRC, those docs also overlap a lot with the ones who’ll give you painkillers you don’t need either.

          3. TL -*

            Generally those states have higher compliance rates. However, Mississippi is a really poor, rural state (and Wyoming is also very rural, so few alternatives), so it’ll be interesting to compare to California.

          4. JustaTech*

            It depends on the state. There are some private schools that don’t require vaccination (Waldorf schools are the ones that come to mind) if the state doesn’t require it. There’s a huge variation in quality and cost of private schools, and many do require vaccination.

        4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

          California no longer approves a religious exemption. Even medical exemptions are questioned – my dear friend’s eldest daughter was damaged by her vaccinations (severe allergic reaction to an ingredient they could not pinpoint with some long term injury) and when her youngest was due for vaccines, the doctor recommended they skip as youngest shared several allergies with eldest. The school district would not accept the exemption and the State even pushed back because the family and doctor could not “prove” the youngest was at risk.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Oh man, that’s scary — I hope they eventually managed to get it demonstrated to the state’s satisfaction?

          2. Hrovitnir*

            Eesh, that’s disturbing and unhelpful. I don’t think religious exemptions are a good idea (the compliance level required for herd immunity varies by vaccine and some are very high) but damn is “older sister had allergic reaction and they share other allergies” is a very good reason!

      2. Liane*

        Not a Christian Scientist, but most states (probably not the OP’s) allow for religious exemptions even if they do not allow philosophical exemptions.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        When it’s permitted, religious exemptions. When it’s not, suck it up and obey the law.

    2. Temperance*

      OT, but I wanted to thank you for sharing and being so willing to educate us. You’re the first Christian Scientist that I’ve ever interacted with.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        We’re a rare breed, it’s true! I’m happy to share when it’s appropriate, and I appreciate the very civil atmosphere here.

        1. Nic*

          I want to second the thanks. You don’t owe us any education, but it’s fantastic and super appreciated that you are happy to!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Very much agreed—I’ve really appreciated Countess’ comments, generally, but I especially appreciate her insight with respect to her experience and how these kinds of issues impact her faith community.

  15. Nephron*

    I think trust would be destroyed in terms of that coworker. Forging documents stolen from a family member is going very far.
    As a coworker I would also be questioning if he is getting any required vaccines as an adult that works around children. I don’t want to go off on a tangent, but annual flu shots, chickenpox, and adult boosters are important especially if his child is unvaccinated and likely socializing with other unvaccinated children as the people that follow that philosophy are often in clusters.
    In terms of calming down the vitriol, I would suggest transparency so people know how you will avoid something like this happening again.

    1. TL -*

      I don’t think teachers are required to get any further vaccinations after their childhood ones. Not getting your adult boosters/vaccinations is generally not a huge risk factor for childhood-vaccinated teachers working with a normal population of school children. Nice, yes, but not generally required.

        1. TL -*

          TB tests are really different from vaccines. But yeah, this is probably state dependent and if he’s required to have updated vaccines, the school should be looking into that paperwork as well.

      1. Agnodike*

        Actually, adults whose immunity has lapsed are the biggest reservoir for pertussis in many populations. Pertussis (whooping cough) often presents as pretty mild in adults, and can easily be mistaken for a “winter cough” – until you transmit it to an immunocompromised child, or to the baby sibling that somebody’s parent brings to a school event, for example. Not keeping up-to-date on boosters isn’t as big a public health risk as not vaccinating children, but it is certainly a risk, and one to which many parents may not wish their families exposed.

        1. Chinook*

          Mumps has made a comeback here in Southern Alberta as well as in the NHL due to lapsed immunity among young adults. There was a huge campaign last week to remind people to get reimmunized and for hockey teams to remind athletes not to share water bottles, equipment or even shake hands (fist bump instead). It took down a few NHLers and may actually affect the playoff race as a result.

          1. 14years*

            Also getting mumps cases in Northern Illinois. And we had a measles outbreak a few years ago. It’s insane.

            1. TG*

              One of my co-workers (in their 60s) contracted mumps this past December and another co-worker came down with whooping cough a couple of months before that. I hadn’t seen so-called childhood diseases in the office before and it was very unsettling.

        2. blackcat*

          … and yet, even as an asthmatic, I can’t get a whooping cough booster covered by my insurance. They cover Tdap only if you are pregnant of have a child under 2 in the house. It’s expensive out of pocket, but I’ve gotten it because tons of my friends have babies.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I apologize if this is unhelpful, but have you tried contacting your county/city public health department? Oftentimes they’ll organize/administer much lower-cost vaccines (this is how I got all my travel vaccines and adult boosters when they weren’t covered by insurance).

      2. Nic*

        When I was teaching in Louisiana (~10 years ago) I had to provide a record of my vaccinations, including boosters and some that had not existed when I was a kid (chicken pox, as an example).

  16. Knitting Cat Lady*

    If I were the employer I’d be seriously wondering if he’d forged anything else.

    1. E*

      This also is a good reason for administrative leave while the investigation takes place. If he falsified any work documents at all, he still has access to cover his tracks if he’s allowed to stay at work.

  17. Mike C.*

    He forged paperwork that could have severe health consequences for others. Unlike the person who didn’t know about norovirus, this person clearly understands that there are severe public health consequences for others in this action. This isn’t negligence, it’s malice. Oh yeah, and he forged paperwork. That’s bad as well.

    Not only should he be fired, he should be reported to the appropriate professional organization that certifies him, and child protective services. More so than any other letter I can think of, this person needs to be canned now and punished severely for his actions.

    1. Mike C.*

      Seriously, OP, you’re a mandatory reporter, right? Does forging health records fall under that?

        1. Mike C.*

          Maybe that’s just my personal belief that children denied vaccinations by choice are being subjected to child abuse talking. Even then, that unvaccinated student is a serious risk to any other student who happens to be immunocompromised in any way.

          Even after that, I’ll be you’re still correct. :(

          1. fposte*

            I think if it became illegal in the state, then it could constitute cause, but not as long as it’s legal.

        2. Dancer*

          Depends on the laws in OP’s country, state or local jurisdiction. If vaccination is legally required, failure to vaccinate may also be classed as child neglect or abuse.

      1. LizB*

        Nope, I’ve been a mandated reporter in three different states now (and have had to make reports in two of them), and this wouldn’t come close to meeting the threshold for that. I agree that he needs to be fired (or at least not be in the school building for the time it takes to fire him) and reported to the licensing board, and that his child should not be allowed to come to school anymore unless and until all immunizations are up to date. But the child protection system is swamped in many places across the country, let’s not make their jobs harder by making reports that have nothing to do with emergency child protection needs, please.

        1. jwg*

          Eh, I don’t know. Depends on state laws. If there’s a concern that this man’s child isn’t getting medical care at all (not just immunizations), it could be classified as medical neglect. I’m also a mandated reporter and have been in a few different states – I’d think this would be a good time to make use of a hypothetical: call CPS and ask them about what to do in such a situation, whether it’s reportable or not. Important to remember that as a mandated reporter it’s not our job to make a *determination* of abuse or neglect – it’s our job to recognize potential signs and basically raise the flag and alert CPS so they can determine whether they need to investigate and potentially intervene. We’re not doing the investigation, we’re not making the decision as to whether it actually is medical neglect; our job is to say, we’re concerned that this may be going on, alert the appropriate agency, submit the documentation/report that explains why we’re concerned, and let them take it from there. It may turn out to be nothing, or it may turn out to be something. But given the situation it may be worth asking the question of whether his child is getting proper care. He may very well be getting care with the exception of immunizations, but if I were OP, I’d be wondering whether the child at least got regular checkups.

    2. Mena*

      Mike C., she did know her kid had noro virus, and didn’t give a thought to everyone else in the office, including those with compromised immune systems.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        As I recall, a large part of that debacle was whether it was reasonable for someone not to know how serious norovirus is, which is precisely why it would seem best not to bring it back to life here.

      2. zora*

        But she didn’t take the step of photocopying a doctor’s letterhead and forging a note saying “Child does not have norovirus and is not contagious”, forging a doctor’s signature, and turning that in to a regulatory board. When the public health folks asked her about it, she was honest about the fact that she didn’t really understand it was serious. And even though she continued to blow that off, she wasn’t knowingly lying to people. I think that makes it Wwwaayyyyyyy different.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        OMG please let’s not do this again.

        (I don’t mean that as a personal attack, Mena—I’m worried about this becoming a huge derail given how explosive the noro thread became.)

  18. Employment Lawyer*

    Fire. Do not look back.

    If you question whether or not you should fire someone who willfully and deliberately forges documents, especially ones which relate to their employment, then you will lose all credibility to fire anyone else.

    Frankly I would question the policy which is protecting him against firing. It sounds like the main issue is “did he lie and submit false documents?” and it sounds like he has admitted that. When there’s an admission of liability there is less reason to hold things up. He should go on unpaid leave right away (or on vacation).

    1. Temperance*

      My assumption is that they have to follow the union’s process for terminating here, which is the reason for the delay.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        Yes, as a teacher he is most likely part of a union and has a contract, and though IME such contracts absolutely give schools the right to fire for cause, there is always a process that must be followed, and it takes time.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That was my assumption as well. I know teachers are usually fairly well protected by their unions.

        However, this does seem egregious enough that it should be fast tracked.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Even without a union process, if it’s a public school you usually have to have a Loudermill hearing, which can take time.

    2. Emmie*

      I agree. Also, many US states have teacher specific laws regarding offenses that preclude employment. You may check those to see if this falls into an automatic fire per law (it might not, but I would still fire as I agree w/ Employment Lawyer.)

      Some US states require other certified folks to report educator misconduct (and this is it) to the State Department of Education and / or licensing / credential board.

      1. Chinook*

        Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to fire this teacher for breaking the law until he has been tried and convicted. Waiting for the licensing ethics board to make a decision would be much quicker.

    3. Lora*


      He forged a document. It’s enraging to me personally WHY he did it, but Alison has asked us to leave that aside, so. What if he had forged the child’s report cards to enable his child to get a full scholarship to Phillips-Andover? What if he had changed grades for his child so they wouldn’t be held back a grade or sent to remedial education, because he truly in his heart believes that his child doesn’t need/would suffer being labeled as dumb or whatever? What if he had forged a recommendation letter so someone with bad grades/SAT scores could get into Harvard? All of that is super wrong all by itself and says that this dude is bad news.

      1. Michael*

        Then they would have been appropriately punished by being forced to watch their child go to Andover.


        (sorry, couldn’t help myself)

  19. HannahS*

    I’m really confused as to what he’s doing at the school, if he’s been pulled out of the classroom. Can whatever he’s doing be done from home, so he’s not in the building? Regardless, I think you can insist that people be civil to him, because you don’t want a high-conflict environment around the students. Seeing Mr. Whatever disparaged and shunned might be confusing and upsetting to them, especially if they’re too young to really get why Mr. Whatever had to stop being their teacher. This is one of the few times that I think “But what about THE CHILDREN!” actually is a reasonable line. Seeing adults fight is terrifying to kids, and it’s in their best interest to have a calm learning environment.

    1. Creag an Tuire*

      +1 — I’m assuming that the only reason this teacher isn’t fired yet is because there’s a contractual discipline process to follow, but I’ve never met a Union Rep that wouldn’t be okay with Paid Suspension Pending Disciplinary Hearing. (If for no other reason than that, as OP and Teacher are finding out, it’s better for the worker’s dignity and respect than making him come in and do makework during this period.)

      1. Julianna*

        This. If there is a contract between the union and the district, there is almost certainly a disciplinary process that must be followed, and it would be really foolish for the district to not follow it (or for the OP or anyone else with authority to suggest doing so).

    2. zora*

      Yes, firing a teacher is often above the paygrade of the principal, and most school districts I know of have a process that has to be followed in a specific order. I think it’s not up to the principal, who is asking for some advice about what to do while stuck with this situation.

    3. Julianna*

      Give us teachers some credit – we can keep it together in the workplace. I think our music teacher is one of the worst educators I’ve ever had the misfortune of working with, but my students would be hard pressed to even confirm or deny that I know who the guy is. I would never waste the time I have with my students (or the time he has with them, not that he uses it well) getting into it over how lousy his management is, or how much it baffles me that he thinks yelling the same directions over and over and over will cause my newcomers to suddenly comprehend English. Every minute I don’t spend dealing with him is a minute I can be spending being way better at my job than he is at his.

      1. HannahS*

        The OP clearly says that “the shunning at work is causing disruption.” It’s not a jab at you. It’s the situation at the OP’s school. And honestly, I remember knowing at 13 that most teachers really disliked our principal, and then in high school that many of my teachers thought that the principal was a joke. So while you, personally, might be able to keep it together, that’s not always the case.

  20. Jaguar*

    So, a few disclaimers first: I agree you run the risk of being fired when you forge documents, I do not agree with this guy’s vaccine ideas at all, and the safety concerns when knowingly putting an unvaccinated kid into the population with vaccinated ones puts me 100% in the “fire the dude” camp.

    That having been said, there are a lot of commenters here saying that he absolutely should be fired and he absolutely cannot be trusted. Really? It’s important to remember that this is likely an idea he feel strongly about. What if it was legally required for someone to disclose their sexuality in an environment hostel to homosexuals. Would people feel the same if he indicated he was heterosexual? The idea that he can’t be trusted because of this is really extreme to me. The idea that he should be fired for forging a document is far less extreme, but still something I don’t think should be automatic – disobedience of the rules isn’t something we should punish people for dogmatically.

    1. Allypopx*

      But that’s a false equivalency. It’s not about social acceptance it’s about lying to circumvent a policy that’s in place for the safety and protection of a population made largely of children. He’s welcome to disagree, but it’s been very clearly stated by having that policy that if he’s not willing to comply, he’s not welcome to work there. It’s not persecution for people to feel betrayed over being lied to about something that impacts their health and safety, and to react accordingly.

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I feel like you’re drawing some comparisons that are, at best, highly flawed. Sexuality is an inborn, categorical trait over which nobody has any control. However strongly he feels about vaccination, the adoption of that view is a choice, and if your choice of opinions are incompatible with the requirements of your employment, that is 100% on you to resolve – without resorting to lying and forging.

      Disobedience of the rules is absolutely something that people should be punished for dogmatically when that disobedience carries a significant risk of exposing immune-compromised or already sick children to preventable diseases. This isn’t some consequence-free flouting of a meaningless regulation.

      1. Anonymous 40*

        Also, I would imagine that, being a classroom teacher, dogmatic punishment for disobeying rules is probably something with which he’s very familiar. It seems unlikely he dealt with disciplinary issues by taking how strongly the kids felt about their own motivations into account.

    3. MuseumChick*

      I think we can take any rule/law/whatever to an extreme that we personally would not be comfortable with (such as your example here regarding revealing sexual orientation). But that doesn’t mean that we just get to disregard the law because it makes us uncomfortable. There are many ways he could have gone about this situation, home schooling was mentioned above, or (while more of a pain) moving the family to a state with less strict vaccine laws.

      I would not trust this guy if I was his co-worker. If you’re willing to forge documents I would be seriously worried about what else you would be willing to do when faced with something you strongly disagreed with.

      We all have personal beliefs. Those beliefs, no matter how strongly held, do not give us the right to break the law.

    4. Kyrielle*

      He not only lied, he lied in a way that required premeditation, and he stole and forged.

      If he had, instead, an un-vaccinated child acknowledged as such and being taught at home, then I would argue that should have no impact on his job, whatever his coworkers might think of his stance on it.

      If he lived where I do, and had signed a religious-exemption form when that wasn’t strictly true, I would hesitate, but that would not require theft or forgery – I could see it being done in a moment of weakness. I’m not sure how I would fall on that one – I’d have to really explore it.

      But this was clearly planned out, took time to commit, and involved dishonesty on several levels. It’s hard for me to rationalize excusing that.

    5. WS*

      This isn’t a matter of “disobedience of the rules”. He didn’t go against school policy, he broke the law and had to forge medical documents to do so. Sure he “feels strongly” about this- and he’s shown that he is willing to go to extreme lengths to defend his “feelings” regardless of what actions he has to take, what lies he has to tell, and what laws he may break. I would be very, very concerned about what else he “felt strongly” enough about to take action on and what that action may look like. To say nothing of the fact that he lied to everyone at that school about a major issue. I would absolutely feel like my trust in him was broken by this.

      (I’m not touching the sexuality comment. That comparison is so off-base and irrelevant here that I’m not sure why you’re trying to argue that example at all.)

    6. hbc*

      Your example is more equivalent to him checking off a box on a form that says his kid has been vaccinated.

      The more equivalent situation would be a workplace that requires you to be hetero and you come in with a fake marriage license and stories about your non-existent spouse.

      Or, hey, there was a discussion last Friday about drug testing. This guy didn’t just say “I don’t do drugs,” he’s smuggling in a bag of someone else’s urine to the testing facility.

    7. TL -*

      Our comments section is historically in favor of evidence-based medicine, including vaccines, and while I normally appreciate that, I do think it can make it difficult for people to sympathize with an anti-vax viewpoint that truly believes vaccinating your child is doing irreparable harm.
      I also think he should be fired, full stop, but, yeah, it’s probably a more complex situation for him than is being allowed for.

      Not an opening for a vaccine debate!

      1. Agnodike*

        Of course we can have compassion for someone who is so afraid of harming their child, and so convinced in the maliciousness of existing authorities, that they are misled by highly persuasive anti-vaccination rhetoric. The social factors that contribute to vaccine distrust are real problems that deserve careful consideration and clear-eyed discussion. But one of the foundational principles of living in community is that we don’t have the right to harm others because of our own fear, and we have a responsibility to make a reasonable assessment of risks to ourselves, our families, and other community members when we make a decision.

        I’m 100% prepared to believe that the teacher thought he was acting in the best interests of his family, and (because I work with vaccine-hesitant and anti-vaccination parents every day as part of my work) I’m 100% prepared to empathize with the very real fear I’m sure he feels. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s failed in his responsibility as a member of a community and a member of a profession, or that he lied and forged documents in order to do so. I’m not convinced there’s much virtue in saying “But he did that because he was afraid!” in this context, any more than there would be in saying “But he beat up that stranger because he’s afraid of strangers hurting him!” or “But he robbed that bank because he was afraid of poverty!” These are all factors we might fruitfully consider if we were trying to develop, say, health policy on vaccines (or policy on reducing violent crime, in the case of the other examples), but I’m skeptical of the idea that it’s especially useful in deciding how to approach the case of an individual who has broken the rules of his place of work as well as the law.

        1. TL -*

          I think it is, because the OP isn’t looking for advice on how to enforce consequences but rather on how to maintain an acceptable workspace. Part of that is having coworkers see and treat the offender as human rather than a monster.

          If the OP was looking for advice on how to deal with the actions in and of themselves, my advice would be fire, immediately, explain why, and make sure that everyone knows how unacceptable that is. But that’s not what the OP is looking for.

          1. Agnodike*

            The source of the workplace tension is that the other employees are justly angry that a colleague lied and broke the law in order to be able to endanger them, their families, and their vulnerable charges. I don’t see how understanding that the teacher in question acted out of fear (as opposed to…what? Pure, unfettered malice?) is going to do much for that, because the source of the anger isn’t the teacher’s motives. As an approach, it also has the unpleasant side effect of telling people that they are responsible for suppressing their completely justifiable reactions, when I think a more reasonable approach would be to remove the source of the vitriol by removing the teacher.

            1. TL -*

              That’s not really an option for the OP; it sounds like it’s the school board’s decision. But the OP can’t allow an all-out witch hunt to occur in their school.

              And yes, it is reasonable to expect people to suppress their completely justifiable reactions – they are at work and need to behave professionally; in fact, they need to behave extra professionally because they do their work in front of a bunch of children who they are teaching. Being very cool is fine; refusing to work with them due to immunocompromised selves/family members is fine, but they still need to be professional and get their work done.

              1. fposte*

                Totally agree with this–you have to work with the people you’re paid to work with. If you think you absolutely can’t, you talk to your superiors to work it out–you don’t respond by hazing somebody.

              2. Agnodike*

                “Suppress” was perhaps the wrong choice of word because it’s ambiguous. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask people to behave politely and professionally at work, no matter their feelings. It’s not reasonable to ask someone to feel compassion, rather than anger, in their heart.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I agree, although I do think the best/optimal option here is paid admin leave or temporary reassignment. But assuming that’s not possible, people have to behave professionally, even when they find a coworker’s conduct to be abhorrent.

          2. Observer*

            In an functional workplace, someone who lies, forges documents, and steals his relative’s documents to further his law breaking is such an outlier that no one wants to get near him.

            Now, the OP may not be able to fire, but he can almost certainly get the teacher put on Administrative leave and then move towards having him fired. And that’s the best course, because the teacher has shown himself to be untrustworthy.

      2. Temperance*

        I would argue that if not vaccinating his child was so important to him, and he truly felt his kid was in danger, he would have availed himself to private school or homeschool as an alternative. He had other choices, and this calls both his character and judgment into question, completely distinct from his status as an anti-vaxxer.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep, agreed. It’s one thing to be like “I don’t want to vaccinate my children and I’m willing to adapt to the required limitations that places,” and another to be like “I don’t want to vaccinate my children but I want them to get all the privileges that vaccinated kids do.”

        2. TL -*

          There are places in the USA where public school is your only option (I grew up in one) if you can’t afford to homeschool.

          Maybe he lives in an affluent suburb and there are school choices aplenty, but maybe he lives in the middle of rural Mississippi (which, I believe has really stringent vaccine laws and very limited education choices) and there’s just the one school option. We don’t know what influenced his choices.

          But yes, this does call his character and judgment into question.

          1. Observer*

            This is a two parent household, and one parent has a degree and decent job already. Homeschooling is almost certainly an option, even if it means some difficult choices.

            1. TL -*

              Homeschooling was not an option in my two-parent household, nor was it an option for the majority of my working-class or downright poor classmates. And it’s hard to downsize from a trailer home or sell your house when there aren’t any apartments to get for cheap. Teaching was one of the best-paying jobs in town and you still needed a second income – and this was a for no vacations, no Starbucks, I do all my shopping at Wal-Mart kind of life.

              But, sure, probably for the majority of families you know homeschooling is an option. That is not true for the majority of families where I grew up. The difficult choice would have become “which bill do I pay that month?” And that’s not even counting in if the wife is disabled or caring for elderly parents – tons of 2 parent households cannot homeschool for very valid reasons.

              1. Temperance*

                I grew up in a lower-income community, too. I also knew some homeschooling families, who made this choice for religious reasons rather than anti-vax.

                I have seen people live off of a teacher’s income, and they were considered middle-class compared to many others. A job with the government, in any form, was a Good Job.

                I think that homeschooling is an option when you have objections to vaccines that are required to attend school. Even if it would be financially difficult, the man’s wife could have homeschooled their kid while working part-time or at night. I mean, if we’re accepting that this is a critical issue to this family, we can also judge them for not trying hard enough to make it work within the confines of the law.

                1. TL -*

                  Whereas in my town, only one family homeschooled and they stopped after two years because the parent had to go back to work because they couldn’t actually afford to be without her income.

                  The teacher definitely should have chosen to vaccinate or move or homeschool; I’m not defending his decision. But it is very flippant to say, “Oh, he’s a two-parent household? Well, just buy a smaller house and downsize!” and incredibly dismissive of the massive swaths of the country where that’s not an option – the only 2 states that are this stringent in the USA are WY and MI. Neither are heavily urbanized, MI is very poor (for the US) and the likelihood of him living in a poor rural community with few options is quite high.

                  What he did was still wrong. He should still be fired. But it isn’t as simple as “rent a 1-bedroom apartment and sell your house!”

              2. Observer*

                I don’t buy it – I knew a number of homeschoolers in that kind of demographic. They made it work by working opposing shifts when the kids were younger, and allowing kids a bit older to be home themselves.

              3. Bunnymcfoo*

                TL, I’m actually replying to both this and your comment below.

                California has joined WY and MI in its stringent immunization laws, and I believe may have even passed them by as it requires vaccinations for all schools, both public and private, and for homeschooling students who receive any classroom study – and I believe that there’s guidelines for homeschooling that defines “classroom study” as including being taught in groups of other homeschooled children.

                I’ve got several friends who had until this point had vaccinated children in schools thanks to a religious exception – my Mother was raised Christian Scientist – and one couple decided to homeschool rather than immunize. They went from being a household with two full time employed parents to a household with one full time employed parent and one part time employed parent. Fergus works Monday – Friday at an office job and Sansa works Friday-Sunday in retail. Their child does not maintain anything that even resembles traditional school hours and some of his lessons are taught by Fergus, some by Sansa, and some by his grandparents who he spends Fridays with.

                Initially they tried to make a go of it with just Fergus working but found that to be financially impossible. Sansa’s lower paying retail job enables them to just barely squeak by now, but she and Fergus have no mutual days off and the only time they have as a family is in the evenings. The thing is, if you believe strongly enough that your child should not be vaccinated and you live in an area where that’s legally required for school, then your options are either to vaccinate your children or find other educational options and deal with the fall-out from that.

                Additionally, homeschooling can sometimes be accomplished with two full time working parents. Most states do not have requirements as to when the child’s instruction is accomplished. If childcare was available during working hours, instruction could happen on the weekends and during the evening, and with older children online instruction could help as well.

                The thing is, the options are “vaccinate” or “figure out a way to make homeschooling work”. “Forge medical documents and lie” is not an option, you know?

                1. TL -*

                  Which is why I said he should be fired and his consequences are well deserved. Multiple times. Over and over again.

                  But what the OP is asking is how to deal with the fall-out in their school and a good way to start is to approach him with sympathy – he probably saw himself caught between a rock and a hard place and if you can appreciate that, you can probably stop any witch hunts from happening.

                  I’m glad your friends were able to make it work. They’re not representative of everyone else who has to make that choice. They’re not representative of him. He should still be fired. We can say that and appreciate that he probably made a bad choice motivated by concerns he felt were very real. Because that second part is how you keep a decent culture in your workplace.

      3. neverjaunty*

        There are people who believe strongly that disobedient children should be beaten into submission. Does that mean we should have compassion for a kindergarten teacher who punishes students by beating them with a rubber hose? Hey, some people feel strongly about this!

    8. fposte*

      Jaguar, when your hypotheticals come to reality, I’ll deal with them on their own merits.

      I agree that honesty tends to be more situational in general than people often realize, but some kinds of dishonesty are enough to fire somebody over in their own right, not just because of what they might otherwise do.

      1. Jaguar*

        My point in bringing up the hypothetical was just to establish some baseline I expect people would be sympathetic to as a way of illustrating that lying or forging documents isn’t across-the-board wrong. I wasn’t trying to equate the two.

        From there, I wanted to bring up that, from this guy’s perspective, he’s being asked to choose between the education of his child and (according to his beliefs) the health of his child. That’s an extremely difficult choice to make. “He shouldn’t have lied” is not an intelligent way of addressing that – to me, it indicates a complete willing to empathize with his situation.

        1. AD*

          A law or regulation (particularly one addressing public health) transcends beliefs or opinions, Jaguar. We can have empathy while unequivocally stating that he was entirely in the wrong.

          1. Jaguar*

            I totally agree that he should not be surprised to find himself fired (or even criminally charged for fraud). I’m trying to separate the morality of what he did from the legality of it in the conversation here. Legally, he is 100%, plainly, obviously in the wrong. Morally, it’s a much murkier issue (at least, on the lying part – as mentioned, I have no desire or inclination to defend him putting his child or other children’s health at risk with his decision).

            1. fposte*

              I’m not even with you on the morality, unless you want to expand that view to legitimize pretty much every crime that’s ever happened–they all make sense in their perpetrator’s eyes.

            2. MuseumChick*

              What it comes down to, for me at least, is he had several other options that did not involve stealing and forgery. If he truly believes vaccines will harm his child he could have chosen home schooling, private school, or moving to a state with less strict laws. While all of these would not doubt be expensive/inconvenient for him if he truly felt his child health/life was being threatened he could have gone with any of them. So I don’t have any sympathy for him. Just because the alternative are inconvenient doesn’t me you can do whatever you please.

            3. AD*

              Jaguar, your hypothetical analogy regarding sexual orientation was troubling to some people (including me) and I don’t see the benefit of extracting subjective opinions of morality when the clear-cut actions of lying and forging documents have legal implications and certainly ones involving losing one’s job.

              Just not seeing what point you’re making, and it feels like you’re being a contrarian for the sake of it. As Jessie said below, if you are at the point of doing something you don’t like or don’t agree with, you have options that don’t include lying and forgery.

              1. Jaguar*

                I’m not playing devil’s advocate. If you want me to show my cards, I’m responding to the ideas expressed here that he lied so fire him or he forged a document so fire him. I don’t think those are great reasons to fire someone and the way people are phrasing those ideas give me the impression there is a lot of dogma attached here and zero empathy, which is pretty scary. The point I’m making is that people should take a softer touch when grappling with those two issues. Again, the health and safety aspect of this makes it significantly more grave, but I’m referring to the comments where people support their conclusion to fire this guy without hesitation on the basis of the lying and forgery.

                If you admit you don’t understand what I’m trying to communicate (which is my fault), don’t accuse me of ulterior motives.

                1. fposte*

                  I guess I’m not clear where you’re landing. Are you saying he shouldn’t be fired? Or are you saying he should be fired for what he did but with the clear understanding that some lies and some forgeries aren’t firing-worthy? Because I think most people would agree with the second, so I’m thinking you’re reading people too reductively.

                2. Jaguar*

                  He should totally be fired. I’m trying to push back against the idea that he can’t be trusted (which has all sorts of scarlet letter problems) and that people shouldn’t lie on documents.

                3. Jaguar*

                  Well, I should expand on that. I think people aren’t bothering to understand the guy’s perspective when they take the stance on lying that they do.

                4. fposte*

                  There’s an irony here–you think that rules are dogmatic and needn’t always be obeyed, but you’re pushing back against the rules people are offering for his firing because they can’t be universally applied :-).

                  As I said, I’m aware that honesty does tend to be situational. However, it matters which situations in which you break rules, and those choices do often have implications for other important situations. “Can’t be trusted” doesn’t automatically mean “likely to do something heinous”–it means “this guy broke a social contract we had every reason to expect him to keep, so what we built our trust on isn’t there.” I genuinely would not know what the hell to expect from somebody who did this, and I can’t count on their word to tell me.

                5. LKW*

                  I think the line is that when lying – what is the impact to the company to whom you are lying and what are the consequences of that lie being found out?

                  In this case you have the potential health impacts plus the impact catching someone in a position of authority over children behaving less than morally (see character clauses in some expectations for teachers above).

                  In your case you have someone who in some countries today would have been castrated and sent to prison, had their lives upended and possibly destroyed (see coverage from this year’s Olympics when someone outed athletes from notoriously anti-gay countries). The impact to their workplaces should be null unless it somehow involves coupling or sex.

                  So I would say that in this situation, the teacher, for whatever reason, decided that the rules didn’t apply to him and that the alternatives that were available didn’t meet his standard or that he couldn’t make them work (homeschooling, moving, etc).

                6. AD*

                  So if someone lies they shouldn’t have thatheld against them? Sorry but don’t agree with your thinking at all.

                7. AD*

                  And “understanding the guy’s perspective” is immaterial. Who cares? He lied and did so in writing as well. Case closed, fired.

                8. Employment Lawyer*

                  “Working for a particular person” is a privilege which requires mutual agreement. I can fire my employee for being rude or lying, even if she has an objectively good reason to act that way. All that I do is to remove my agreement to keep paying her. She can quit; same thing applies.

                  When people say the teacher is “untrustworthy” it’s really shorthand for saying that his actions are incompatible with this employer. Another employer might not care; it’s no skin off of our back.

                  You’re treating this like a right, which is causing your error. You can have empathy but still have preferences, because this is a mutual agreement. Think dating: you may feel sorry that your dumpee is upset, but that doesn’t require you to keep dating someone who you don’t trust or like.

            4. Temperance*

              He had plenty of options besides committing fraud. 1.) He could have vaccinated his child. 2.) Barring that, he could have homeschooled, or had his wife homeschool. 3.) If they’re a 2 income family, his wife could have picked up a part-time job, or a late shift job, so that she can homeschool. 4.) Teacher dad could have quit his job to homeschool the kid. 5.) They could send the kid to a private school with no vaccine requirements.

            5. Sween*

              I think the moral line is even clearer than the legal line. He lied purposefully, deliberately, with premediation. He risked the health of minors he has responsibility for.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          No, I entirely disagree with the idea that “he shouldn’t have lied” is not an intelligent way of addressing that, and frankly, we do not need to empathize with everyone who commits fraud and violates public health laws. Sympathy? Maybe, sometimes. Kindness? Sometimes. Empathy? Not necessary.

          Because, well, he shouldn’t have lied. There is not a grey area here. And yes, I come at this with baggage because I have an immune-compromised kiddo. But public health laws are serious and while I can *sympathize* with someone who feels stuck between a rock and a hard place in general, well, welcome to parenting. Flouting the law and lying about it to hundreds of people (which is what this amounts to) and forcing people to *unknowingly* place their own children at risk is. not. ok. and does not entitle you to lie and forge. You may not like your options (homeschool, which can include hiring tutors so you can still work) but you do in fact have options.

          1. Anonymous 40*

            This, precisely. He didn’t just endanger his child and commit several crimes, he potentially endangered other kids who either couldn’t be vaccinated for medical reasons or have suppressed immune systems.

          2. Jaguar*

            Right. And for putting him child and other children at safety with his lie, I agree that he should be fired (and sued). But that’s an issue of compromising people’s safety, not lying. People here seem to be taking exception with the lying and I don’t think lying is as extreme an issue as that. Lying about asbestos exposure in a school is extremely serious while lying about how many professional development days is less so. In the first, you should expect heads to roll and lawsuits to follow while in the former it’s more of a “f-ing teachers” thing. To take some of the comments at face value here, we should treat both of those the same.

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              No, I think people are responding as they are based on the actual context of this specific situation.

            2. TootsNYC*

              No, actually, the issue is he should be fired for lying. If he lied about what he ate for dinner Thursday, no biggie.

              But he lied on an official, legal form; he did so with a lot of plotting and effort.

              The “compromising people’s safety” is not the reason he should be fired, actually.

            3. Observer*

              Well, if the number of certification days is germane to whether he is officially qualified to teach, then he should be fired for that too.

              He’s lieing about what he had for supper because it’s no one’s business that he ate this weird stuff? No biggie. He lied in order to gain some thing form himself? That’s a biggie, and definitely speaks to trustworthiness. He He did so with great consideration and effort? Huge big deal. He forged paperwork to benefit himself? What else is he going to forge? He stole his SIL’s paperwork to perpetrate his fraud? That’s a sign that the only thing protecting you from him is whatever he thinks his boundaries are, and we know that they are far more permeable than anyone else’s.

              So, yeah, this definitely does bring up legitimate issues.

            4. Temperance*

              I disagree with your take. He is putting children in danger by lying about his kid’s vaccine status. It’s not merely a lie, either, but actual fraud. He stole someone’s official records and doctored them to hoodwink officials. I mean, that’s low.

        3. fposte*

          My reaction to that is, essentially, “So what?” I don’t think anybody envisioned him as Snidely Whiplash. We’re all the good guys in our own stories.

          (And homeschooling is not exactly a secret, so he wasn’t forced to choose between education and his child’s health.)

        4. Agnodike*

          Fundamentally, I think he’s in fact being asked to make a choice about his participation in a community and whether he’s willing to abide by the rules of that community in order to access its benefits. That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask of a citizen, since that’s basically the underlying principle of a system of laws. In a community, you have certain rights and certain responsibilities, and you can’t have one without the other.

          We might justly interrogate whether the ways in which we’ve defined these rules unfairly disadvantage members of marginalized groups, including those with particular beliefs, and we should always be considering how we can balance personal liberty with community safety when making the rules that govern our communities, but that’s very different from framing the question as an absolute personal choice between goods.

        5. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          I’m not willing to empathize with him enough to excuse forgery and lying. He shouldn’t have lied. I’m a dad, I can walk as far as understanding that he felt like he was faced with making a hard choice, but no further.

        6. Observer*

          It’s not likely to be really true that he had to choose between his child’s health and education. In a two parent household, homeschooling is almost always a viable option, even if it’s a difficult one.

    9. Ghostwriter*

      There are plenty of states (including mine) that allow unvaccinated kids to attend public school if their parents have a conscientious objection to immunizations. He could have chosen to move or homeschool — but instead he committed forgery.

      1. WS*

        This is what I keep coming back to, the fact that there are *other options*. Expensive/time-consuming/inconvenient options, sure… but if your other option is forging documents, breaking the law, and risking your entire career if you get found out (which is what the teacher is probably facing now) I am, at the very least, very concerned about his judgement here. Especially since if it is in fact a school and not a daycare, he had at least several *years* to come up with a plan that doesn’t involve breaking the law. There might not be a *wide* range of options, but he still had other choices that he could have gone with before he got to forging documents and breaking the law.

    10. Mike C.*

      It doesn’t matter that “he feels strongly about it” for several reasons.

      1. In the vast, vast majority of states, there are numerous ways around the vaccination requirement.

      2. The examples you give do nothing for the public good and will likely endanger the child in question. Vaccination documentation is part of ensuring that vaccinations happen in the first place, and that does have a direct link to public health.

      3. A teacher is putting the health of any immunocompromised students at risk. Teachers aren’t supposed to be in the business of harming students, even if they feel really strongly about it.

      1. TL -*

        The OP explicitly says they are not in the vast, vast majority of states – there are stringent vaccination requirements. If they are in the USA, they are in either MI or WY.

        1. Bunnymcfoo*

          Or California.

          But the point that 47 states have those lenient laws and the lying teacher can move if they feel so strongly about this issue.

    11. Kate*

      Your analogy is seriously flawed. Homosexuality isn’t contagious, it isn’t deadly (on its own, in the absence of prejudice/bigotry), and it isn’t eliminated by herd immunity.

      The response on this thread is caused by the fact that saying that you are vaccinated when you are not can cause someone else’s death or severe injury due to illness.

      When you add to that the fact that teachers are expected to teach and model such behavior as “copying someone else’s work is wrong and will make you fail the test” there’s the understandable frustration by parents that their kids are being taught “do as I say, not as I do” instead of real learning and hard lessons. How do you explain that no, you can’t copy an old term paper just because the teacher got away with it for a year or two, or that you deserve to fail a test when caught cheating if the teacher is let off without being fired? It’s a position of trust and one that requires a certain level of ethical behavior that this teacher did not meet.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I would also add that I’d have sympathy to someone who is homosexual because being out could get them killed.

        The child in this situation- if people knew the child weren’t vaccinated, I seriously doubt the child or parent would be in danger of being killed because someone hated that the child wasn’t vaccinated. That’s on top of the health-related reasons.

    12. AD*

      disobedience of the rules isn’t something we should punish people for dogmatically

      That’s such a broad statement it’s meaningless. There are absolutely actions/behaviors that should result in immediate termination, and what this teacher did was fraud. Can we agree that something which could bring criminal charges in other contexts is grounds for immediate dismissal?

    13. LoiraSafada*

      People that choose not to vaccinate are not a protected class, and being anti-vax is not an immutable characteristic.

    14. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If an individual is hired to work at a Catholic school and signs a contract that they will uphold certain moral and ethical standards as part of their employment and later is found to be in a same-sex relationship or pregnant out of wedlock, they have violated the terms that they agreed to and would (and should) be fired.

      So, yeah, as an LGBT person, I would not take a job that required that sort of agreement. That’s not to say that all such policies are relevant to the position at hand, but I’d say that’s fairly analogous to this situation.

    15. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      You’re ignoring the whole forgery bit. He did not just falsely claim his kids were vaccinated — he forged medical records as such.

    1. PollyQ*

      If the kid’s still small, I hope the parents have at least made it ver very clear that it was in no way her fault and that she didn’t do anything wrong. Still, it must be very hard just to be booted out of school suddenly.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Me too. It would be so difficult for a child to deal with this. If the parents are being shunned, the same could be happening to the child. Some reassurance that it’s not their fault would help.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Depending on the age, it might or might not be. I got homeschooled for a month during a measles outbreak at my school — it was hell on wheels for my parents, but I actually loved it.

          1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

            I really do hope that’s the case. And I would have loved to have stayed home for a month and learn there. But my parents probably would still be recovering, lol.

        2. Temperance*

          I imagine that because of dad’s fraud, and the child’s unvaccinated status, she’s probably not going to be getting invited to playdates.

          1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

            Yes, that’s what I was thinking of. I really hope that’s not happening, but it was my first thought (after WTF).

    2. Dot Warner*

      That’s a really good point. She’s been yanked out of school, everybody seems to hate her dad (and maybe her too), and she might think it’s her fault. The kid is the real victim here.

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Yes, exactly. It might not the case, but it’s a likely scenario. I wish people would think about their kids before doing nonsense like this.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Yes. :( I really hope that has been dealt with as kindly as possible by everyone involved.

  21. Muriel Heslop*

    I teach and live in a district in which vaccination is mandatory. We had an instance a few years ago in which a child was removed from school indefinitely due to falsified vaccine documents. If it had been the child of a teacher, I can’t imagine that teacher keeping his job. The deception would be terrible on its own, but I think the optics/politics would definitely cause the axe to drop.

  22. Kyrielle*

    I actually don’t care whether his child is vaccinated, un-vaccinated, over-vaccinated, or a purple cow in terms of his keeping his job. (In terms of the child being in school, clearly by the regulation they should not be attending. But the fact that this is about vaccination is fairly irrelevant as far as his job.)

    In a circumstance in which a regulation existed with strict requirements, he *stole* and *forged* in order to bypass the regulation. The fact that he has done this, that he planned it, committed it, and continued it, is sufficient to destroy my ability to trust him, and would be enough to merit firing him. The fact that this regulation *pertains to the very system he works for* makes that even more the case.

    You can argue that the regulation is intended to insure the health of children; and I suspect he would argue back that he doesn’t believe it does so. I don’t care. I don’t care if this is a regulation about vaccinations or a regulation about whether or not sharp scissors are allowed on campus. It is a regulation, it is in fact a law, and he deliberately disobeyed it. He did not disobey only that law; he also stole his relative’s paperwork, copied and forged it to make it seem to apply to his child. There is no argument that he fell into this by mistake or didn’t know what he was doing; and I don’t see how his integrity could ever again NOT be questioned in this context.

    Feelings run high on both sides regarding vaccination, so it’s also not surprising that his coworkers and the larger community have strong feelings about this. So I think that expecting him to be able to build connections and work with people under these circumstances is also unrealistic; even if they try, many people are unlikely to be able to get past that.

    Actions and choices have consequences, and he knew the situation when he did this. Ignoring whether he put others at risk, because I don’t want to get into that debate, *he knew he was not supposed to do this and he did it*. That tells you a lot. (It’s also true that in some cases, we later laud people for breaking laws. But to choose to break a law, you are knowingly taking the very-likely chance that you will not later be viewed as a hero, and certainly not in the short term.)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      He did not disobey only that law; he also stole his relative’s paperwork, copied and forged it to make it seem to apply to his child.

      If the relative were unaware of this, could it not be identity theft/medical info theft as well?

      1. Kyrielle*

        Probably not exactly identify theft since he removed the name? But outright theft, and theft of medical info if such a thing exists. He broke several laws here – surely stealing the info and forging it to apply to his child, as well as actually furnishing the false papers and lying about immunization status, are crimes.

      2. Liane*

        I’d think it could, but I am also a layperson when it comes to the law.
        In this case, the relative is aware, as they alerted the state.

    2. Observer*

      Exactly. And if you really are taking a moral stand, you need to be prepared to accept the consequences. Part of the reason that principled law breakers come to be seen as heroes is because they understand the risk, and accept the consequences of their actions. That’s not what’s playing out here.

    3. CBH*

      Not only did he forge paperwork to disobey the law but this farce would have been kept up for years assuming that the child was still in elementary or grade school

  23. LeRainDrop*

    What this teacher did is extremely dishonest. I agree with Alison. I would not trust him again, and I would want him fired.

  24. Elizabeth West*

    Haven’t read all the comments yet, but this is no different from fudging any other required documentation (a transcript, etc.). If that would get him fired, then this should too. I think the school needs to handle it the same.

  25. Silver Cormorant*

    It’s one thing to lie and break rules and forge required documents (say, if the school required transcripts showing that the kids had completed a certain class at a previous school), it’s entirely another thing to break rules and forge documents intended to ensure the safety of other people’s children.

    It’s like a daycare worker forging proof that they’d completed a child CPR course, or bringing in snacks for the kids with trace peanuts in them and hiding them in a different “peanut free!” product’s box.

    1. Allypopx*

      While my reaction to the former would be less emotional, I’m not sure my stance would be any softer. If you forge or falsify documentation and submit it to your employer, you’ve blown your trust.

  26. Dancer*

    LW, you said: “If he had just lied about his child’s vaccine status without it coming into the workplace, I would leave this alone because it’s a personal matter.”

    legally and ethically – this was never a personal matter. You said in your area, vaccination is mandatory. He’s knowingly broken the law. He’s committed a fraud – and he’s put quite a bit of planning into it. This wasn’t a momentary aberration. This goes straight to character and integrity – he lacks both.

    If you have mandatory reporting for teachers, would reporting suspicions about other parents’ failure to vaccinate be part of that? Can you trust him to report signs of child abuse, if it aligns with his own worldview? Is failure to vaccinate, and then the fraud as well, grounds for child abuse or neglect charges against him?

    In my country, teachers are required to pass a high-level criminal records check with a clean record before they are allowed to teach. Is it the same in your area? Is this offence likely to lead to a criminal conviction that would bar him from employment? And since he’s already admitted he committed this fraud, so you don’t need to wait for him to have his day in court and be convicted before you act.

    I get that your employee/co-worker may have seemed like a nice guy and was a good teacher, but you need to let that go. He’s toxic now. You have parents who will be taking younger sibs of current kids to your school for as much as twenty years (and then maybe coming back with grandkids), so the community’s collective memory will be decades long. This is not the kind of thing that goes away.

    You can order people to behave professionally at work (though some might quit if you push it), but you can’t force them to forgive, forget, and be friends again. Grieve for what you’ve lost if you need to, but let it – and him – go.

    Tl;dr: If you had a teacher apply for a vacancy tomorrow, with a case like this hanging over their head, would you hire them? If the answer to that is ‘no’, then you should probably just get started on the process to sack this guy.

    1. Helen*

      I read it as OP saying if the child was homseschooled and the teacher didn’t try to lie to the school, it would be a personal matter that the child was not vaccinated. Vaccination is mandatory for school attendance, not mandatory period.

      1. Dancer*

        But in the first line, OP said “Where I live, vaccination for children is mandatory”, so I read that as mandatory for everyone.

        Regardless, my point still stands: the teacher didn’t choose to homeschool, so it is not a personal matter.

  27. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Health issues for other kids aside, look at how many people are underinsured, and half of families can’t monetarily cover an emergency, A lot of parents don’t get PTO either.

    So not only are there health consequences, there are far reaching economic consequences for many families when one chooses not to vaccinate. Up to job loss, eviction, and even medical bankruptcy. The teacher should have considered all consequences.

    1. Emotionally Neutral Grad*

      Based on the description of the local immunization policy, it sounds like OP may be in Australia, where the health insurance and labor situations with respect to illness are not as dire as in the United States. It doesn’t make this situation any less serious than if it occurred in the United States, but the economic concerns would weigh less heavily in that case.

      1. TL -*

        There are states in the USA that have quite strict vaccine requirements. It’s a state-by-state law for exemptions, not a federally mandated one.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Yup, can confirm having gone to school in two of those states. Vaccination records were required to enroll. This was particularly fun when I was 28 and going back for grad school, since I had no idea who my doctor had been as a kid and thus had no idea who to call to get them… Luckily, my parents had some of those records and were able to help me get the rest. So this very well could be in the US.

  28. Beancounter Eric*

    Not a lawyer nor law enforcement –

    Isn’t forging/falsifying an official document a criminal offense in most places?

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      This is probably a civil violation. Forms that go to the school about your child’s health history are not “official documents” covered by various criminal laws, generally.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        In this case it sounds like he forged an immunization certificate, though, and that’s a “medical document” or “medical record” in must states. So criminal liability’s on the table (but of course varies by state).

    2. Emmie*

      Yes. It would be even worse if he forged a government document – like it was a county public health immunization record or submitted it to a government agency like a public school.

    3. Not Australian*

      In some jurisdictions, surely, it would be fraud; he’s obtained a service (i.e. his child’s education) using forgery that he wouldn’t otherwise have been entitled to.

      1. doreen*

        And even if it’s not fraud or forgery, it’s possibly some other offense – I think in my state it would come under “offering a false instrument for filing” as well as forgery.

  29. Mena*

    There are some religions that shun their ex-members quite politely, with complete and total silence. LW can’t expect to control peoples’ reaction to these transgressions. For me personally, the total disregard of regulation AND the welfare of the larger group are very anti-social actions. No one would stop me from politely and completely shunning this person. “The shunning at work is causing disruption” is likely an understatement but LW, you do understand that it is the fault of the forging, lying teacher to whom children are taught to look up to, right? He has destroyed his personal and professional credibility with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude and stolen documents protected under federal privacy laws – getting fired may be the least of his worries. It isn’t the shunners causing disruption in the workplace – let’s keep responsibility in the right place.

    1. Anti-Vax Kills*

      Yep, this. So long as they’re not outright rude to him (especially in front of the kids), they have every right to treat him coldly.

  30. Penguin Peticurist*

    I always wonder what matters most in life: intentions or consequences? If a man helped a little old lady across the street with nary a bad thought in his head, but he caused her to be stuck and killed by a semi truck, what is more important to consider? The fact that he never intended for this to happen, or the fact that he killed an old lady?

    Whatever this man’s reasons, he lied and forged information. Even if you don’t consider not vaccinating your child to be poor judgment, it was legally required by the school he chose to have his child attend – where he worked, no less. And will his relative suffer any consequences? I’m not sure where the law stands when it comes to unknowing accomplices/accessories to crimes, but at the very least, it could reflect poorly on her and/or her child if word gets out.

    Personally, this sounds like a man who cares more about himself and his values than integrity, possibly more than even his own child, but at the end of the day, all that the company will care about is what he did, not why. I don’t think they are going to dwell long on the grey area.

    1. Temperance*

      From the letter, it seems that the man’s relative is the one who alerted the school to the crime, so I don’t think she’s an accessory or accomplice in any way. She’s legally fine here, and is the victim of her BIL’s crime, if anything.

      1. Observer*

        true. But, if this had come out a different way, she could have been facing a LOT of trouble.

  31. Undine*

    An additional point — As an employee of the school, he violated a policy that is legally required of all parents of children enrolled in the school, and that the school district is actively required to enforce. Maybe you don’t fire a janitor for a break-in, but you sure fire a policeman.

    1. calonkat*

      Janitors have all the keys. No way I’d keep a janitor accused of taking part in a break-in, AND I’d change all the locks!

  32. NW Mossy*

    I see it as worse, because you can potentially never interact with a stranger again. Your sister-in-law, however? Not so easily dispensed with in terms of future (extremely awkward) interactions.

    1. NW Mossy*

      Gah, this is all out of context now – should be a reply to a comment about the distinction between grabbing his relative’s records rather than those of a stranger.

    2. Temperance*

      I see SIL as a freaking hero for reporting this fraud, but yeah … a whole lot of awkward family interactions. Then again, I wouldn’t allow my kids around anti-vaxxers, and I’m wondering if SIL feels similarly. It’s too dangerous.

  33. rubyrose*

    If he is willing to forge vaccination records, what is to keep him from changing the grades of his students to something else (either higher or lower) based on his personal feelings about the student? Answer – nothing would stop him. He has shown he has no integrity. He’s gone.

    He now has time to home school his child.

    1. MuseumChick*

      This. What else would be willing to go if he felt himself backed into a corner with a personal strongly held belief? If the argument is he is sincerely worried about his child’s health so he broke the rules. What would stop him from say, changing his child’s grades?

  34. Bend & Snap*

    NOOOOOOOOOPE. I have an immunocompromised child and I would be out for blood with this as a parent.

    Taking the vaccine issue out of the picture, this guy forged a legal document for work. Putting the vaccine in the picture, he violated his employer’s guidelines AND PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDELINES and took away other people’s decisions about having their own children around an unvaccinated kid.

    Deceit, poor judgment and going to great lengths to conceal a parenting decision–I can’t. This guy shouldn’t be teaching anywhere.

    Frankly if he’s not teaching, I think you should physically remove him from the school until you can terminate him. I do not think it’s reasonable to expect his colleagues to interact with him as if nothing is wrong when he did something egregious with something that people feel very passionate and worried about.

    1. rubyrose*

      Agreed, get him physically out of the schoolhouse. Maybe there is some mundane task at the district headquarters he can do until he his fired?

    2. Maxwell Edison*

      I’m with you. My son spent a week in the PICU when he was a month old for whooping cough (babies can’t be vaccinated until two months old) because of people like this guy.

  35. Temperance*

    LW: this guy made every other teacher’s job 100x harder with his fraud. Now every teacher at your school is going to face suspicion and deal with angry parents, even though they have no part in this and dislike him for his actions. Since he was rightly removed from his position, the others need to both pick up the slack for his work and deal with the angry public. That sucks.

    I personally don’t think you should admonish your other teachers to be nice to this dude. Professional, sure, if necessary, but I might be looking for solo assignments for this man if I was in your shoes. He can’t be trusted to teach or work with the kids anymore.

    1. Observer*

      He also can’t be trusted. Period.

      If I were working with him on a project, I’d be worrying that he’s going to try to steal credit for my work. If I have anything to do with supervision or timekeeping, I’m going to worry about his fudging his time sheets. If I’m allergic or have sensitivities of some sort, I’m worrying whether I can trust what he says about his food, his air freshener or whatever else I might come in contact with that could be a problem.

      So if you want to minimize the disruption this guy is causing, get him away from the rest of the staff.

      1. Temperance*

        That’s exactly it. This man has proven that he has poor ethics, and cannot be trusted. I wouldn’t want to work with him, either.

      2. GeoffreyB*

        For that matter: as a teacher, he has responsibility for child safety. I would not trust him to follow best practice on reporting suspected abuse, ensuring that kids are safe in swimming class and on school trips, etc. etc.

        And if anything did go wrong, I certainly wouldn’t want to be the person who had to explain why he was left in charge of children’s safety after proving himself to be dishonest and irresponsible.

  36. Robbenmel*

    Maybe I missed it, but have we addressed the OP’s main question about how to deal with her other employees’ interactions with Lying Teacher? I think Alison’s go-to was spot-on: no matter their own thoughts on the matter, they must interact with LT politely and professionally while at work. Getting him busy somewhere that is else might be the easiest, but unless and until he is gone, either fired or working out of the building, people have to behave themselves at work.

    1. TL -*

      Not really. There’s been a lot of focus on demonizing the teacher and much less focus on the OP’s concerns.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Possibly because AAM addressed it pretty straightforwardly. I admit that doesn’t leave as much room to snark at other people.

      2. Anonymous 40*

        He’s being “demonized” for actions he chose to take. That context simply can’t be removed from the situation.

        1. TL -*

          Nobody’s saying that. All for firing this guy; just unsure why the comments section has turned into a pile on on the teacher rather than practical help for the OP, who probably has no control over a) his repercussions and b) his current status/location of work.

    2. Former HS teacher*

      Well, were I a coworker I would be avoiding interacting with the teacher because I have multiple people in my life who have compromised immune systems. Since I have no way of knowing what diseases his family might be a vector for I could not in good conscience put the people in my life at risk. I would push back against any requests that I continue to interact with him.

      My advice to the OP is to let the natural social consequences of this teacher’s actions play out how they will. He chose a course of action that his coworkers seem to find reprehensible. Now he should face the consequences of his actions. It’s not likely that the OP is going to change the coworkers’ feelings about this teacher’s actions. Forcing everyone to play nice seldom does anyone any favors.

    3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I think commenters are not mentioning that aspect specifically because the teacher shouldn’t be on campus. If he has been removed from the classroom, he should be on administrative leave and either at the main district office or at home.

    4. blackcat*

      There was only one realistic suggestion: get the teacher out of the school, either through administrative leave or sending him to a district office.

  37. Sarah*

    I would also be concerned here — has the employee himself also had the required tests/vaccinations? It has been a while since I worked with young kids, but I seem to remember at a minimum a TB skin test and a whooping cough vaccine were required. I would check and make sure the teacher’s own records are also in order.

    1. Julianna*

      Hmm, you know, this might vary from district to district. I’m in my 2nd year in my current district and have worked in another school district within the past 5 years, and I haven’t needed a TB test or to show proof of vaccinations. I did need immunization records for college (which was when I student taught), but those were for my university and I never had to give that information to the school. My mom is a Head Start teacher, though, and she has to get TB tests on a fixed schedule. (We both live in states that allow religious exemptions for vaccinations but not personal non-religious exemptions.)

  38. Krista*

    At my work, also a school, a similar-ish issue took place, where a teacher was removed for doing something that made other teachers (vocally, angrily) unwilling to work with them–which is required in our jobs for planning committees, hiring, evaluations/assessments, etc. The problem at my workplace was that the administration attempted to fire the teacher without going through the correct procedure (which is outlined in our work policies guide AND our union contract), so our union was required to defend the teacher’s job and was able to save it. Now people are pissed at the union for saving the teacher’s job, even though the people at fault are the administrators who didn’t follow policy. So that’s a thing I’d recommend looking into quite carefully, OP, to ensure everything is followed to the letter if you want it to stick.

  39. Michael*

    I have a close friend with an immunocompromised child who, I strongly suspect, would file a lawsuit against a school district that allowed a teacher to remain on staff after purposefully exposing their child to an unvaccinated student. And I also strongly suspect he would win.

    Additionally, everyone here is focusing on the fraud, but if the school had any immunocompromised students, forging a medical document that had the result of exposing them to disease vectors without any possibility of their knowledge could easily have led to criminal charges if one of them had become ill.

    Frankly, both the OP and their employee have already dodged a massive bullet just by dint of the fact that nobody died, nobody got sick, and nobody is suing them.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Why do you think she would win? I don’t see that as likely, for myriad reasons. And criminal charges even less likely. I’m a lawyer and I just do not see a lawsuit here. I really am not a fan of the fearmongering of “you’re lucky you haven’t been sued” comments.

      To take just one reason it would likely fail: my immune-compromised child can get sick startlingly easily, and that does NOT make it easier to point to one particular person as to blame when he gets sick. If he gets the measles, for example, it might be that one unvaccinated person in the school who was there because of forged documents who was carrying the virus and passed it to my child – but vaccination rates are not 100% so my child probably also has been around many other unvaccinated kids and he could have got it from them; also, it could be that the vaccine simply wasn’t effective in some other vaccinated kid, as sometimes happens, and he got it from that person. Or the vaccine maybe was not effective in my kid and he got it from the universe at large.

      And a lawsuit for simply not firing a teacher whose child was in school without vaccines? Nope, nope, nope, nope.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        In other words, to win at a lawsuit you have to have more than righteous anger about someone else’s actions, and more even than justified fear of a bad outcome about that person’s actions. The school district has to violate a duty it owes to you (which is not as straightforward as it sounds) and you have to suffer actual harm (not just “I’m angry and something bad *could have* happened) and you have to be able to show that the person who harmed you is the person you are suing. That last one? Really, really hard when you are talking about communicable diseases. Because communicable diseases are, well, communicable and not often traceable to one specific patient zero.

      2. Michael*

        I disagree. A likely lawsuit against the parent would be under a negligence tort, meaning the hypothetical plaintiff would have to demonstrate:

        (1) that a particular duty or obligation between the defendant and plaintiff existed
        (2) that said duty or obligation wasn’t honored
        (3) that a specific injury arose as a result of (2)
        (4) that (3) was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of (2).

        (1), (2), and (4) all seem to be strongly supported by the facts of this case; whether (3) is provable or not is probably a medical question, and one I admit I don’t know enough about. Here’s a pubmed article suggesting that it would be possible, though: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23061588.

        If the parent in question had availed themselves of a religious or other exemption, I agree it would be a much more difficult argument. Given the underlying fraud here, however, I think there’s a much stronger case; if nothing else, the fraud made it impossible for parents, teachers, or medical professionals to appropriately mitigate the danger (for example, by changing classes so at to minimize exposure to the unvaccinated student).

        1. fposte*

          3) is key, though, and it’s pretty much dependent on a kid actually getting sick, and getting sick in a way that cost more than a visit to the doctor and a few days off from school (unless the parents are happy to pay an attorney hourly).

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Exactly. (3) is an enormous hurdle. (Plus, as the child has been removed from school, I disagree the parents are owed a duty here regarding the teacher’s employment status anyway. I mean, teacher should be fired, but that does not mean that not firing him is a breach of a duty to the parents.)

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          What is the duty that was not honored? The situation is that a teacher forged a vaccination record to get his child into school, was found out, and the child was pulled out of school; IF that school does not fire the teacher, but the child remains removed from the school, what duty has been breached and what harm do you think a plaintiff can show?

        3. Observer*

          Not only is #3 almost impossible to prove, #2 is totally not the case. The school never knowingly allowed a child without proper immunizations into the classroom. Not firing the teacher doesn’t change that.

          1. Mike C.*

            If both kids come down sick with the same illness, a little DNA work could show that they were affected by the same disease, and which one was hit first. This is a really common thing to do in the food safety world, for instance.

            I’m not going to say it’s easy or likely, but if that happens (and let’s face it, we’re in a big country), there’s a way to do it.

            1. Observer*

              Even assuming that this can be proves – and it’s not always possible – #2 is still an issue. The school did all the right things to insure that all the children in the classroom were vaccinated. Not firing the teacher afterwards would not change that.

          2. Michael*

            I said “a likely lawsuit against the parent” in my post. I agree a lawsuit against the school will be harder to win; that wouldn’t be over not firing the teacher, but over one of their employees harming a student. Not firing them would just be additional incentive to sue.

      3. Jessie the First (or second)*

        You’ve posted this a couple of times and I am curious about why – what is the relevance of this?

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            I did some brief research and Honey’s comment was an attempt at inserting a stealth anti-vaxxing argument. The commenter above actually cut-and-pasted her comment from an article posted on an anti-vax site.

    2. Observer*

      People are focusing on fraud for two reasons. One is that Allison has asked that we don’t get into the issue of vaccination per se. I totally understand why, but it does limit discussion on that front.

      The other is that, even a fervent anti-vaxxer who is utterly and totally convinced that vaccinations are the work of the devil and big pharma, and thus utterly oblivious to the danger he and his un-vaccinated children pose, should be capable of understanding that fraud is dishonest, and stealing your relative’s records in order to perpetrate your fraud is loathsome.

      I highly doubt that you are correct about criminal charges. And, I’m somewhat skeptical that your friend would win a lawsuit, although that’s more possible.

  40. Cynical Lackey*

    I hope he was an art or phys ed type teacher. I would cringe if he was responsible for teaching kids science, history, or math.

    1. Chaordic One*

      So it would be o.k. if he were an art or phys ed teacher? That’s wack.

      I think you’re applying a bit of an unfair stereotype to art and phys ed teachers.

      1. Julianna*

        Seriously. Most P.E. teachers have some health topics in their curriculum. Also, do you really want someone who can’t distinguish fact and opinion, or analyze author’s bias, teaching literacy? (You do not.)

      2. MoodyMoody*

        I think that the point Lackey was trying to make is that art teachers are not usually responsible for teaching critical thinking. I would disagree on the PE teachers, though; they are often also responsible for teaching health classes.

        1. Cynical Lackey*

          That’s not what I meant. This teacher should not be in a position where a student takes his anti-vaccine stance seriously. If PE and Health are taught by the same department, perhaps he should be hall monitor or something.

    2. Dot Warner*

      I was hoping someone would bring this up. I would not want an anti-vaxxer teaching kids science and spreading around their false beliefs.

  41. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    At a minimum, this teacher has committed identity theft. He stole the identity of his relative’s child and used that child’s medical records for another person. Medical fraud and identity theft are fireable offenses, especially when the goal was to defraud his employer.

    If this teacher were employed in a different industry (e.g. a marketing analyst rather than a teacher), then no, this wouldn’t necessarily be a fireable offense. But as a teacher, he cannot seek to intentionally defraud his school. Regardless of the politics involved, his job as a teacher and employee of the school is to support the school’s regulations. He has demonstrated he is incapable of that, and he should be placed on Administrative Leave until a decision is made. There’s no reason why he should be on campus at all.

  42. Troutwaxer*

    The school district probably has a maintenance division which is off site. Give him a desk at that site and let him shuffle some papers. Use whatever district site is the most unpleasant available. His colleagues won’t see him and will be able to calm down without his being present.

    1. Julianna*

      Typically you can’t just plunk down a teacher into a non-teaching role, especially if there is a disciplinary process outlined in the contract between the union and the school/district. In many districts, non-teaching staff (ex. custodial staff, security, etc.) also have collective bargaining agreements that would need to be respected. See also: putting people into jobs they are entirely unqualified for – not a great idea.

    2. Chaordic One*

      I’ve heard about school districts that have what they call a “rubber room.” Teachers who, for whatever reason, have disciplinary actions pending against them, have to report to this room instead of going to work. There are usually tables and chairs and that’s about it. After showing up, the teachers have nothing to do and being in the rubber room supposedly makes them go kind of crazy.

      The teachers in the rubber room are usually eventually either fired or returned to the classroom. Sometimes they have WiFi and the teachers spend their days surfing the web and playing online games on their laptops and/or tablets. Sometimes they read books and magazines all day. I would suppose that sometimes the rubber rooms have TVs (probably set to news channels).

      1. Julianna*

        I have never, ever worked in a district with that sort of thing. We usually need that space for, you know, classrooms. Or to replace all the storage and meeting space we had to convert into classrooms.

      2. Observer*

        NYC has this set up. One of the things Bloomberg made a big issue of in his tenure was this. I don’t know how much he was ultimately able to change, but it was a big deal.

  43. Evergreen*

    I’m on the side of enforcing minimum standards of politeness and collaboration with the coworkers, and otherwise following through with your employers policies on fraud and the results of legal proceedings.

    Put it this way: if the coworkers were all anti-vaxxers and approved and celebrated his decision, would that affect the outcome for him? Would you give him a positive performance review for improving the collegial atmosphere at work? No, of course not. Tell the coworkers to stay in their lane on this one and deal with the fraud on its own.

  44. Noah*

    “How would you address this issue if you were in my shoes?”

    “This employee is alleged to have committed criminal fraud. Because we are a public entity, he must go through a disciplinary process before he can be terminated.” Then he should be fired when the process is completed. And, you know, prosecuted for committing crimes.

  45. nope*

    I can really only see him saving his job if he:
    1) Got himself, his wife, and his child fully vaccinated and made copies of the (legitimate) paperwork publicly available so all staff and parents could see he had complied with the law
    2) Made a big, sincere, and public apology acknowledging that he had put his community at possible risk, purposefully lied and sought to deceive, broke the law, and was truly and completely sorry for having done so and would be working towards regaining people’s trust.
    3) Did a 180 and shunned anti-vaxxer sentiments at least while at work and in public.
    –But if he went so far as to forge paperwork and steal another child’s identity, I really can’t see him wanting to bend so far.
    Public school teachers are, in broadly general terms, very big on having values, being honest, earning trust between students and parents, doing things for “the good of the children”, “the good of the community” and “the good of the future”, and spreading knowledge. Public teachers are held to high moral standards by their communities, (sometimes ridiculously so) and many take pride in upholding those expectations, even as they’re annoyed with them.
    This guy has acted against some of the most dearly-held values of his profession and coworkers.
    Parents are going to shun him because he broke their trust, and his coworkers are likely now viewing him as an alien in a tweed jacket with elbow patches that they don’t want anything to do with.
    Demanding people get along doesn’t work when a parent tries to force squabbling siblings to share, and it won’t work here. The LW should mitigate where needed, but not referee.

    1. Aealias*

      I said something similar (but more ranty) above. This teacher has betrayed his colleagues’ trust and proven that he cannot abide by the standards of the profession. He has potentially actively endangered students, which is a cardinal sin.

      His principal can require the other teachers to be polite and professional in the halls, and remind them to bear the student audience in mind when interacting with him. It is unreasonable to require them to be collegial or welcoming otherwise – in meetings and staff break rooms, they might reasonably judge that he’s lost the right to be considered a peer.

      Having him work from home or go on paid leave for the duration of the investigation is likely a better solution. And if by some chance he isn’t fired at the end of the process, he should be transferred to another school.

      1. Lynly*

        This response is exactly right and says it all in terms of what needs to happen “right now.” I say that as a former teacher and as a long-time people manager and HR manager at a large company.

        1. Lynly*

          …although I will add that the investigation could also lead to loss of his teaching liscense, in which case his public school teaching career in his current state is over, so a transfer would be moot. I think it’s likely I a case like this that after the investigative process, if he were fired he would also have his liscense pulled.

    2. Chaordic One*

      Unfortunately, I’m aware of similar cases in which the teacher was able to save his job because of school district politics. (The teacher was related to the school superintendent and/or to one or more people on the school board, or in another instant, was a member of the same cliquish church as the superintendent and/or school board members.)

  46. Teapot Unionist*

    I’ve never heard such an egregious situation, but this is the precise reason I encourage the teachers I represent to work in one district and send their children to school in another. It sucks when your behavior and decisions regarding your own children end up as part of your employment record.

  47. Al who is that Al*

    I think the “cause celebre” is clouding the issue.
    He knew that vaccinations were a legal requirement in that area before his child came to the school. So the forging was deliberate and pre-meditated and he knew it was illegal but did it anyway.
    He is a teacher placed in a position of trust, the questions I would be asking are “What else has he forged ?” Is his degree false ? Does he have criminal convictions he has hidden ? He cannot be trusted because he has put himself above the law so is capable of doing it again.

    1. Observer*

      Good point about the degree.

      I’d be looking at every piece of paper this guy signed with a fine tooth comb.

  48. Bagpuss*

    I agree with the majority of posters that the teacher should be fired for his fraud and lack of integrity and the fact that he was willing to risk the safety of children in his care.

    In the short term, I think the OP can address it with other staff members by giving a factual explanation:

    “Under the District’s laws / policies / contracts for teachers (as appropriate) there is a formal process which must take place when a teacher is accused of wrongdoing. Until that process is completed, I have to ask that you work in a professional manner with [teacher] as it is disruptive for the pupils for other members of staff to refuse to work with him while we work through the appropriate disciplinary process”

    this assumes that he fact that there is a disciplinary process going on is not confidential – if it is you may have to twaek your wording a little bit to ask them first to work with him so as to minimise the disruption to the pupilsa, and then perhaps go on to say “As you know, District’s policy means that any disciplinary process is confidential until the process finishes and I can’t comment at this point as to whether that process is happening here or what stage it has reavched. You are free to raise yourconcerns directly with [school board / district manager / whoever is appropriate”

    I think framing it as “your actions are harmful to the school and puplis” not “plauy noce with the liar” is more likely to work to get people to change their behaviour, particuarly if it is possible for you to also remind them thnat this will probably be a short term thing.

  49. A Canadian*

    If this guy was my child’s teacher, I’d be beyond livid, and demand he was fired immediately. In the meantime, I’d be doing everything possible to pull my daughter from that school. Other people can be compassionate if they want. He committed fraud, betrayed a relative and put lives at risk. Children’s lives. He’s lucky he’s not facing jail time. Shunning is the very least of the punishment he should be facing.

  50. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    The teacher SHOULD be fired for forgery. Now, I won’; make a judgement on vaccination as AAM asked it not be discussed (although it’s nearly impossible to avoid).

    Now – the actual firing process – it’s very difficult in a union/education environment. But in a case like this – it CAN be done. But there’s a teensy problem, as they say in schoolteacher disciplinary actions.

    Fire this teacher? He/she then becomes a martyr for the cause – the anti-vaxx movement. I’m sure the school department has thought that out. And if she becomes a martyr, that will serve as a rallying cry for her buddies in the movement, and gives the antis’ a prominent platform.

    So it’s not so simple.

    1. Observer*

      If the school plays this right, then it doesn’t have to play out that way.

      They need to loudly and clearly play up the FORGERY – STEALING FROM A RELATIVE aspects.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        It WILL play that way … if this guy lets it. People from the philosophical fringe like to appear as victims. If this guy is associated with a group – they may exploit him as a victim.

        Did he commit forgery? Well, he had to fudge up some , um, alternative facts here. To get his kids an education. Then the cameras come to town, Dr. Phil gives him a liveshot, etc.

        We had that happen in Boston, on at least one occasion, where parents won’t get conventional treatment for their children with cancer – and they claim to be victims of the state when their kids are taken from them and subjected to chemo. Groups love the attention, especially when it involves kids.

        A parallel – remember the county clerk who would not issue same-sex marriage licenses? Groups rallied around her “victimhood”. Apparently someone said – ok, have the assistant clerk do those – otherwise QUIT YOUR JOB.

        A school system might not want to walk into this.

        1. Observer*

          I remember that county clerk – and even lots of religious rights people backed off when the the clerks office made the point that she was being allowed to not provide the licenses – but she needed to let someone else do it.

          What I’m saying is that these groups might try to make him a victim. But, if the school district uses some sense, most of the population will understand what happened. And, are you seriously going to consider keeping someone who has misbehaved so egregiously because of the possibility that some fringe groups are going to try to capitalize on this?!

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Yes, most of the population will … no disagreement there, because most of the population disagrees with the anti-vaxxer crowd and also agrees that forgery is an egregious offense.

            The problem is – fringe groups don’t care about those things. They are after the publicity. They know that 99.9 percent of the population views them with disdain. But there is that .1 percent that might engage with the “cause”. That’s what they care about. And a community might not want to deal with that.

  51. Jill*

    If he’s a teacher, I’d say employees are right to be leery of working with him. If he forged his own child’s medical record, what’s to say he wouldn’t falsify students’ grades? Or standardized test scores? It is most definitely an integrity issue.

    And it may be unfair, but teachers, because they are in a position of authority and influence over minors, are (and should be!) held to a higher standard. I work in a public school system. In many instances, teachers have been disciplined at work because of something they’ve done in their personal life that may set a bad example for students or call their trustworthiness into question.

  52. OMG*

    Good God almighty. I am so not surprised that he is deal with the consequences of his actions. At best, this is a serious breach of ethics. And worst, he could face jail time for forgery. OP, if I were you, I would stay out of this and leave him to the wolves.

  53. Former Employee*

    “He has been removed from the classroom because some parents objected or pulled their kids from his class once word of what he did got out. My issue is that no one wants to work with him or associate with him at work because he lied.”

    I am a bit confused. If he is no longer teaching, why would anyone need to work with him? What is he doing that would require others who work at the school to work with him? If he has been removed from the classroom, what is he doing there all day? I think he should have been removed from the school itself and given something to do at the district office.

    I believe he should be fired because he thinks he is entitled to do this regardless of the consequences to others. What else does he feel he is entitled to do that others are prohibited from doing?

    By the way, measles is so contagious that if a child has it and is left in a room with 10 unvaccinated people for about an hour, 9 of the 10 people will get measles. People can become deaf or blind from measles. Children can die from measles and not just immunocompromised ones. Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal’s oldest child died of measles encephalitis at age 7. There was no measles vaccine at that time. Once a measles vaccine was available, Roald Dahl wrote a letter imploring people to get their children vaccinated.

  54. CBH*

    I agree this teacher should be fired, but for the forgery and lying, not the vaccination debate. There are two separate people here, a teacher and a parent.

    The parent has a right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their child, we’re not debating that. The parent is doing what they feel is best for the child. That being said, the parent chose to forge documentation, a crime. The parent is also a teacher. I am sure when the teacher signed the employment paperwork where they had to truthfully say they had never committed a crime. Vaccinations to some are a controversial issue. I am sure the school district had strong wording in paperwork for employment and for a child’s education so there would be no loophole in not vaccinating the child.

    There are many laws society does not agree with but we follow them for the greater well being of the population. If the parent felt that strongly about not vaccinating their child then alternative educational means should have been made for the child. If the teacher was determined to work in that particular school district then there should have been full disclosure or other employment opportunities should have been researched.

    I know this person was caught between a rock and a hard place, but they had a lot of choices they could have made. They made a choice to forge documentation, they need to be let go. They put the health of other children at risk when vaccinations were required, they need to be let go.

    As for OP, Alison said it best – point out to them that the teacher needs to be treated professionally.

    I think legally the teacher would have to be let go. I am curious and how this teacher (even if they switch careers to another field) would rebuild trust and professional relationships with colleagues.

  55. Candi*

    Well, forgery is a federal crime as well as on state level, so that’s going to be fun for the parent if the prosecutor’s offices take a look. The devil is in the details. But I hope that as long as all the procedures are followed, this teacher gets the book thrown at him.

    The thing is, my state has mandatory vaccination with a (very strict) religious exemption.* The proof holds good for the child’s entire school career, as long as each new school gets a copy or the original doc in the kid’s file.

    Medical exemptions are allowed; strictly personal preferences aren’t.

    Now, the unvaccinated kid whose parent circumvented the system by lying? In another story, I’m the parent of their classmate.

    Kid and family moved, from a state where vaccination was flexible, to our much less flexible state. Somehow, the kid was enrolled in my son’s middle school without vaccinations.** Now, the system is strict enough that when my daughter was missing one required shot at orientation three weeks before beginning middle school a year later, I was told I had have her caught up by the time school started. (Turned out I mistyped 9 where I should have put 8…)

    For whatever reason, the health department was checking the students for polio virus antibodies. (Yes, this is legal. Apparently.) The kid who’d moved and started recently?

    Asymptomatic carrier, shedding live polio virus.

    Herd immunity. There was no one attending with a religious or medical exemption at the time. The two immunocompromised students were “attending” class via the net. (Not live feeds.) Everyone was reasonably up to date. Patient zero was the only patient. He had to be suspended, but they recorded it as a medical absence.

    Never knew what happened to him. He never went back to that school. I didn’t Google him; that’d be mean.
    They alerted the parents for obvious reasons, but his name was withheld from official emails. I only know who he was because my son was in the same gym class when they were tested.

    But I have no sympathy for those who lie and cheat to get around a system meant to protect kids.

    * Strict as in usually having to belong to a recognized religion and declaring so in writing. The state education department recognizes a lot of religions. “Personal religions” -their term- require that and a letter proving sitting through a doctor’s discussion on vaccines and the dangers of not vaccinating.
    ** There was scuttlebut about a forged doctor’s note, but I personally do not know the truth or lie of that.

  56. B84*

    As a member of the anti-vax side, I wholeheartedly agree that this guy should be fired. He forged documents (as a parent) & turned them in to his employer (as both parent and employee).

    However, as I’ve seen in only a single comment (haven’t read them all – there are almost 550 of them & I don’t have that kind of time), I’d be rather upset with the relative who called the state department in the first place! What kind of family member does that?!

    Compassion should most definitely be part of how this guy is treated as well. Not saying don’t fire him (go reread my first sentence), but understand that there might be a situation where he rationalized this as being his best option as long as he didn’t get caught. He might have felt as if this were his only way through – maybe he couldn’t afford a move or homeschooling or whatever other options there are. His coworkers, at least, should bear those possibilities in mind. Even if it’s only for the sake of the children they are around for 8 or so hours out of the day. Kids pick up on emotions/tension far faster and more acutely than adults do. As long as this guy’s still in the workplace, his fellow colleagues need to project professionalism when interacting with him – whether they agree with his choices as a parent or not. Long story short, it’s possible to be understanding and compassionate while still enforcing consequences/punishment.

    I hope this guy does get his behind kicked out of the door, as he violated the trust placed in him. He committed fraud and knowingly turned those papers in. His actions also make people think even more sideways about those of us who believe vaccines aren’t the health-saviors they’re touted to be.

    1. Bagpuss*

      ” I’d be rather upset with the relative who called the state department in the first place! What kind of family member does that?!”

      I suppsoe that the other side of that is, “What kind of family member steals paperwork rom their relative and potentially exposes them to being suspected or even accused of involvment in a fraud?”

      I think thefamily member did the right thing. I don’t suppsoe it was an easy choice for them, and they deserve to be respected for having the integrity and strngth of mind to do the right thing, despite personal feelings.

      Loyalty t family members (or any other group0 can be a very positive thing, but it can also be hugely damaging where families (or other groups in society) ‘close ranks’ and protect wrongdoers within the group against the consquences of their actions.

  57. Starla*

    This is so sad. This desperate father is being ridiculed and people are trying to make him lose his job over him trying to protect his child. Everyone has different views on vaccinations but we all have one view in common as parents and that is that we will do anything to protect our children even if it means lying or forging paperwork. I don’t see a liar or a deceiver at all I see a desperate father trying to protect his child. You all should be ashamed of yourselves!

    1. Candi*

      Not vaccinating a child doesn’t protect them. Autism is a genetic disorder involving alterations in at least 14+ different genes. It is passed from parent to child; vaccines do not cause it or any other genetic disorder. They can’t. The science does not work that way.

      Meanwhile, not vaccinating a child puts them at risk of mental retardation, physical disability, and death, due to the results of the diseases involved. During the time they are contagious but not symptomatic, or if they are an asymptomatic carrier, as frequently happens with polio, they put other people’s children, and anyone who is immunocompromised, at risk of these consequences. This also includes people who can not get vaccines for various reasons.

      And frankly, it is incredibly insulting to everyone on the ASD spectrum to not vaccinate because of the belief about vaccines causing autism. You are saying by your actions that the most terrible thing to be is ASD -worse then being mentally handicapped because of brain damage caused by measles and other diseases, worse than having permanent damage to the body, worse then death.

      Criticize the effectiveness of certain vaccine formulations -a few do need work. Worry about formulations that can cause allergic or adverse reactions -those are legitimate, if rare. Be concerned about testing in the lab and field -some methods are demonstrably better than others. But do not base choices that affect a large number of people -far beyond just your family -on ignorance, fear, and emotional choices.

    2. Lara*

      You can choose to see what you like. Doesn’t change the facts. And the facts are that he forged paperwork, lied to his employer, stole medical documents and involved a family member in his misdemeanours.

      And that’s leaving aside the fact that he may have endangered the health and lives of immuno-compromised children. I really cannot grasp your reasoning.

Comments are closed.