‘False allegation’: Teacher says she was wrongfully fired over mask policy

CHARLOTTE — A former teacher is speaking out after she believes she was wrongfully fired over her school’s mask policy.

Julia Haferman told Channel 9 that she was recently fired from Bradford Preparatory School, where she worked for about three years. According to Haferman, school officials said she had been exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive and that several students complained that her mask was off while walking among students in class.

School officials are not saying much about what happened on the first day of school, but their attorney said they were following CDC guidelines and they stand by their decision.

Haferman said that decision wasn’t fair to her or her students and makes her look like the kind of teacher who puts students’ health at risk.

“I feel targeted, 100 percent,” she said.

Haferman has been a teacher for 18 years, until the second day of school this year when she was accused of taking actions that led to the quarantine of her entire class -- 25 fourth graders.

“It was a false allegation,” she said.

Haferman said she wore her mask in class the first day as required, except while at the whiteboard -- 6 feet away from students.

The next day, Haferman said school officials told her she had been exposed to someone who is COVID-positive and that someone complained that her mask was off while walking among students.

She was fired on the spot.

“To be terminated based on what a student said, a parent said and for me to have no ability to respond is devastating,” she told Channel 9.

Haferman shared only parts of her termination letter with Channel 9. It said teachers can have their mask off at the front of the class but “must put their mask back on when they move about the classroom” and “students told us that yesterday you did not comply with this requirement.”

Channel 9 reporter Ken Lemon spoke with a father of a student who disputes the school’s claim.

“My child told me that the only time she saw Julia without her mask was when she was up front talking.”

Haferman said other teachers were caught without masks, but not terminated.

“To have my reputation slandered, ruined -- accusations made against me -- I want my name to be cleared,” she said.

Haferman said “the answer, the truth will come to light.”

An attorney for the school told Channel 9 they would release the file on Haferman’s termination if Haferman agreed to make it public.

Haferman said she will talk to her attorney about that.

Bradford Preparatory School’s attorney sent Channel 9 the following statement:

“I represent Bradford Preparatory School and am writing to respond to your inquiry. First let me say that Bradford is committed to providing a safe and healthy school environment for students and staff. The school also takes seriously its potential impact on the community in its decision-making, especially during the pandemic. To that end, Bradford maintains a mask mandate and complies with all applicable state and local orders, including the Strong Schools Toolkit. All who come onto campus, (student, staff or visitor), are required to don masks in an effort to do all that they can to protect their students and staff, and most especially those students who are currently too young to be vaccinated.

Under Strong School’s, the school is required to impose a quarantine where there has been a direct exposure to COVID. A direct exposure is defined by the CDC and NCDHHS. Since Bradford has a mask mandate, a direct exposure would occur if masks are not being consistently worn. In the interest of keeping our community informed, BPS maintains and updates a COVID dashboard on its website to report quarantines and covid positive cases to the extent permitted by law. On 8/11, the BPS public dashboard reported that over 20 students in the K-6 building were quarantined for direct exposure to COVID. Consistent with the school’s legal obligations, it is unable to share any further information.

With regard to the employee you referenced, she was employed at Bradford from 8/13/18-8/11/21. While my client is limited by law in what they can share regarding personnel matters, they can share that the employee was terminated from her position with her last day of work being August 11, 2021. As I shared with you when we spoke today, if the employee signs a release, we would be happy to share further information.”

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