Leila Centner, the multi-millionaire director of Miami’s Centner Academy, has requested that teachers not get vaccinated until school is out, and implied they won’t be guaranteed a job if they do get the jab over the summer.
According to the New York Times, Centner sent out a questionnaire to determine the teacher’s vaccine status and intentions, and implied possible legal consequences if the teachers don’t disclose.
Centner laid out her concerns and policy in an email that read, in part:
“Tens of thousands of women all over the world have recently been reporting adverse reproductive issues simply from being in close proximity with those who have received any one of the COVID-19 injections, e.g., irregular menses, bleeding, miscarriages, post-menopausal hemorrhaging, and amenorrhea (complete loss of menstruation).
The reasoning aligns with the growing “Reverse Contagion Anxiety” disinformation I reported on last week. This is the false notion that unvaccinated people are suffering from various conditions by simply being around vaccinated people.
Centner’s concerns about women’s reproductive health resonate with themes in “Pastel QAnon”, a term coined by disinformation researcher Marc-André Argentino for conspiracy theories that predominate in majority-female wellness and New Age culture. Dr. Jennifer Gunter has debunked the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine can affect another person’s menstrual cycle or fertility by proxy.
The email attracted instantaneous international coverage, and was even brought up at a White House briefing. According to CBS Miami reporter Jim DeFede, who broke the story, it rattled state lawmakers in Tallahassee, with Senator Jason Pizzo immediately appealing to the State Department of Education to intervene. DeFede reported that Pizzo learned that the Department was not going to take any action against the school, because it has no policies in place on teacher vaccination.
Centner’s position raises some difficult questions:
- Is it legal? Could a business fire employees for getting a vaccine?
- Does it violate HIPAA privacy provisions? The ADA?
- If the vaccine is so contagious that jabbed teachers will harm the children they’re with, shouldn’t the school ban children whose parents have been vaccinated as well?
- What about service workers at Centner Academy? Lunch ladies? Janitors? People delivering supplies?
- Where does this end? If the vaccine is contagious, how isolated is isolated enough for the children of Centner?
According to the Biscayne Times, Centner opened the private school in a three-story office building she and her husband David, a tech entrepreneur, bought for 10M in June 2019, as part of a large-scale real-estate buy-up in the area. The Centner’s Miami Beach penthouse is currently listed for sale at 17M.
Is the current anti-vax position out of character for Centner Academy? Not really. Alongside the school’s aspirations to holism — children start the day with meditation, and are fed all-organic, gluten free, sugar free and dairy free food—there’s a page on their website titled “Medical Freedom from Mandated Vaccines”. The page runs down typical anti-vax talking points that falsely conflate vaccination with rising rates of ADHA, asthma, diabetes, and autism. The statement reads:
A lot of kids are suffering and it is up to us as a Miami international school community to rule out any and all possibilities contributing to the rise in chronic diseases and disabilities for our students. Before we, as a school, mandate anything that could possibly be causing so much harm to our students, studies need to be urged to be conclusive as to whether common mandatory vaccinations lead to various common health disorders.
The page points concerned parents towards medical / religious exemptions.
According to webarchive.org, this page wasn’t available on the web until April 6th of this year. How did a vaccine-hesitant position escalate into anti-vax propaganda for Centner and her Academy so quickly?
Centner’s email did not cite any sources for her unwarranted claims. But it did say the following:
This was not an easy decision to make. We made this decision with several doctors who are on the front line investigating the reported issues…
Which doctors might these be?
The day of or after Centner sent the email, (former) Dr. Christiane Northrup posted a selfie with (current) Dr. Kelly Brogan, confirming their support for Centner Academy, as they both have kids in their families attending. Brogan lives in Florida, and Northrup referred to her grandchildren attending the school.
Many reports note that Centner Academy recently invited anti-vax propagandist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Larry Palevsky as guest speakers at the school. Kennedy, Brogan, and Northrup frequent the same anti-vax events and appear on the same podcasts. Brogan, a COVID-denialist, name drops Palevsky, a Manhattan-based anti-vax pediatrician, in her last book:
In a report called “The Disinformation Dozen”, researchers from the Centre for Combatting Digital Hate show that almost two-thirds of online anti-vax propaganda originates from only twelve influencers. Christiane Northrup, Kelly Brogan, and Robert F. Kennedy Junior are three of the twelve. The CCDH report has been widely cited in Congressional hearings into online safety.
Centner also recently hosted Jason Shurka for an Academy-sponsored Instagram Live event. Shurka is a New Age life coach ($333/hr) and manifestation influencer who says he was woken up to the light of the universe after 23 shoulder dislocations and a staph infection. The topic was “Saving the Children”, a phrase that in the summer of 2020 was used to recruit American mothers into QAnon. A few days later Shurka led a manifestation workshop with Centner students, remarking on Instagram that “These children and their vision boards have the power to remind us all that we are infinite and we once held belief systems with no limitations… until we were taught the illusion of “You can’t”.
“It’s baffling,” Centner parent Greg Tatar told CBS Miami. “Why would she not want her teachers to get vaccinated?”
Tatar has reason to be surprised. Leila Centner’s Instagram account shows no signs of anti-vax activism until January 23rd of this year, when the tone shifted sharply from family holiday and school-pride pics to two misleading posts about the VAERS system. She walks her followers through a false understanding of the tool, implying that the listed reports have been investigated and proven.
From that point on, Centner’s feed accelerates, spewing wall-to-wall anti-vax materials from a firehouse of pseudoscience sources. She posted concerns about thimerosol in vaccines, a claim that masked teachers would traumatize children, that Bill Gates controls all media, that masks are child abuse, that more people have died from lockdown measures than from COVID, and a meme comparing lockdown measures to Nazism. None of these claims are evidenced.
Centner’s scope seems to be widening. As of today, her feed features a selfie sermon from an unnamed woman sitting in her car somewhere in India, claiming that no one is dying in the streets there. “Indians like to sleep in the streets,” the woman declares.
Something happened just a little less than fourteen weeks ago to radically change Leila Centner’s public opinions, and from her Instagram feed it appears to have happened very quickly.
Researchers at QAA podcast were the first to notice that New Age or “holistic” influencers and communities are vulnerable to blindingly fast redpilling. They reported on a yoga mat entrepreneur named Krystal Tini who watched her Instagram follower count spiral out of control as she blended COVID-trutherism with QAnon dogwhistles.
Kevin Roose’s work on the Rabbit Hole podcast shows how Caleb Cain got radicalized into white supremacy in a matter of weeks by following the YouTube recommendations algorithm all the way into the dark recesses of the far-right web. In Centner’s case, the digital river flows towards platforms where influencers have been banished by the lacklustre attempts of the major platforms to control the spread of disinformation. Centner’s linktree points to Bitchute and Telegram.
When I interviewed Caolan Robertson about how he came to work for the white supremacist Tommy Robinson, he described a whirlwind of overpowering influence that swept him from relative apoliticism into propaganda-making within months. Hundreds of stories on the QAnonCasualties subreddit describe the harrowing speed of radicalization, and how it’s torn apart marriages and families.
A similar disruption has now smashed into the community and family life of Centner Academy, at a similar speed. What remains to be seen is whether the Centners’ enormous wealth will be able to buffer them from the fallout, or purchase some qualified advice.