Three Rhode Island teachers who were fired for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 were offered their jobs back after a legal settlement.
The Barrington School Committee reached a settlement with Brittany DiOrio, Stephanie Hines and Kerri Thurber to receive a payment of $33,333, a spokesperson for the school district announced Thursday in a May 11th news release. Barrington Public Schools also said that the three teachers have the opportunity to return to teaching positions within the Barrington School District should they choose to do so.
"Our district was navigating an unprecedented health pandemic and leaned on the important recommendations by the CDC and the Rhoda Island Department of Health to ensure the safety of our students and school community," the statement reads. "Our then-policy helped combat the pressing public health crisis of the time, while keeping schools open, and one that nearly all faculty adhered to."
The statement continued, "In coordination with our legal counsel and Superintendent, we determine this ongoing, expensive litigation would likely continue for a lengthy period of time, and a resolution should be reached. 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 work."
The teachers are also each entitled to receive back pay: $65,000 for Hines, $128,000 for Thurber, and $150,000 for DiOrio. Additionally, the three teachers' legal counsel will receive $50,000 in attorney's fees, which was first reported by Legal Insurrection.
Hines, DiOrio, and Thurber had requested a religious exemption after the school mandated employees get the vaccine. The district denied their requests, suspended them without pay, and ultimately fired them effective January 1st of 2022.
Back on May, 28th, 2022, Judge Jeffrey Lanphear ruled that Barrington’s School Committee violated the state Open Meetings Act by not giving sufficient notice to the public when it adopted a policy the year prior.
Reportedly, Barrington Public Schools was one of only two districts in Rhode Island to require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The teacher's attorney, Gregory P. Piccirilli, Esq., sent Fox News Digital a statement.
The teacher's attorney, Gregory P. Piccirilli, Esq., sent Fox News Digital a statement saying how it was "troubling" that the local teachers union refused to represent the teachers.
"In October of 2021, my clients were first suspended and then fired for declining to take the COVID-19 vaccine based upon their religious convictions. As our medical expert Dr. Andrew Bostom has proven, and the CDC and RIDOH have admitted since July of 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine does not stop transmission. It is against medical science to mandate such an experimental drug, particularly for younger healthy people such as these teachers who are at practically no risk from the disease," Piccirilli said. "That these teachers all were previously infected with COVID-19 and therefore had natural immunity also evidenced the lack of need for them to have the shot. A particularly troubling part of this case was that the NEA-Rhode Island union to which these teachers belonged refused to represent them. Our claims against the union for breach of duty of fair representation and religious discrimination are still pending and are not part of this settlement."
He continued, "We are extremely gratified with the settlement, in which each teacher is made whole with back pay and all benefits, reinstatement, and expungement of the termination in their personnel records, along with compensatory damages and legal fees. I can confirm the amounts you have listed. At this time, my clients are in the process of rebuilding their lives and careers, as well as their reputations, after having been vilified by so many for taking a stand in their faith in opposing what was both an illegal and immoral vaccine mandate."