By Reagan Reese
A Rhode Island school district settled on Thursday with three teachers it fired in 2021 for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, offering them their jobs back as a part of the deal, according to a press release.
The Barrington Public School System has agreed to pay the three teachers it fired more than $33,000, according to a district press release. The teachers sued after being fired in 2021 after the school board did not grant them a religious exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“We’re extremely gratified that they’ve been vindicated in their position,” Gregory Piccirilli, the attorney representing the teachers, told The Boston Globe. “A lot of people were dismissive and skeptical of their claims at the time. They went through a lot of personal trauma dealing with this. Their faith has gotten them through this.”
Records of the teachers’ termination will be thrown out as a part of the settlement, The Boston Globe reported. The teachers have not yet decided if they will return to the district as they all have found other employment since being fired by the district.
In April, the Barrington School Committee unanimously voted to lift its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for district faculty, the Barrington Times reported.
“Barrington Public Schools continues to encourage all staff and students to be fully vaccinated to assist in reducing disease severity and transmission,” the new policy stated.
In May, a Rhode Island Superior Court judge ruled that the school committee had not given faculty enough notice of the mandate and had violated the state’s “Open Meeting Act,” the Providence Journal reported. In 2021, 427 Barrington Public School faculty received the COVID-19 vaccine with the exception of the three teachers who sued the district.
“In coordination with our legal counsel and Superintendent, we determined this ongoing, expensive litigation would likely continue for a lengthy period of time, and a resolution should be reached,” the school committee said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We believe our Administration’s time, and our District’s financial resources, should be spent on the daily work and mission of Barrington Public Schools. Our School Committee looks forward to continuing to support this important work.”
Piccirilli referred the DCNF to local media’s coverage of the settlement when asked for comment.
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