After refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, a college advisor and basketball coach was fired by his full-time New York employer and accepted a job in Florida instead.

The move comes after more than a dozen NYPD officers also left New York for Florida, seeking freedom of health care choice, lower taxes, and warmer weather.

Derek Jackson, an academic advisor at Onondaga Community College, which follows the SUNY vaccine mandate requirement, also coached boy’s basketball at Nottingham. He lost both positions for noncompliance with the mandate but gained a new position at a charter school in the West Palm Beach area.

He told, “I lost my job (at OCC) due to the vaccine mandate. That’s the real deal. I love my team and wish I could be there. But I had to start applying at other places.”

Jackson coached only two games into the season, and after coaching the Bulldogs since 2017. Once a star player at Corcoran, he went on to play at Boston College and Florida Atlantic.

Jackson says he lost his job “because of President Joe Biden, straight up,” referring to an executive order issued by Biden requiring OSHA to impose fines and fees on private employers. A federal judge halted the order after multiple states sued, and OSHA later announced it was going to back off from implementing the federal rule change as the cases played out in court.

“I think the problem with the vaccine is it’s a one-way street,” he said. “There is no debate. I don’t want to go into the situation. It hurts a lot. But it’s about life. You’re not going to tell me what to do. I’m going to make choices for me and my family.”

Jackson is one of thousands who’ve left the Big Apple for Florida as part of an ongoing national trend of residents of blue states relocating to red states. As of earlier this month, at least 14 NYPD officers had already relocated to a Tampa Bay area town within months of being invited by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Desantis has pledged to give a $5,000 bonus to law enforcement officers who relocate to Florida from other states. It’s part of a proposal he rolled out in September, including a $5,000 signing bonus and relocation support.

Despite conflicting claims by the Biden administration over ongoing COVID-related lockdowns, at a news conference supporting Florida law enforcement last week, DeSantis said Florida would not be imposing any more mandates or lockdowns.

Desantis said, “In Florida, we will not let them lock you down,” referring to the federal government. “We will not let them take your job. We will not let them harm your businesses. We will not let them close your schools. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

By Bethany Blankley


The Center Square was launched in May 2019 to fulfill the need for high-quality statehouse and statewide news across the United States. The focus of our work is state- and local-level government and economic reporting.

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