Teachers Get Their Due Two Years After School System Fires Them for Not Getting Vaxxed

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

When the COVID-19 vaccines emerged, the narrative started out as a suggestion that people get should the vaccines (and what would apparently become endless boosters) in order to protect themselves and maybe even save lives. Then, the rallying cry turned to the assertion that getting the vaccine was the right thing to do. You didn’t dare ask questions or express reservations about the vaccines; the expectation was that everyone would just do his or her part.

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It didn’t take long for the narrative to turn to “get the shot — or else” for far too many people. Vaccine mandates hurt employees across many sectors of the economy, but those vaunted “essential workers” often bore the brunt of them. First responders lost their jobs, and when teachers weren’t having to educate kids remotely, many of them faced unfair mandates.

Now, three Rhode Island teachers who lost their jobs under a vaccine mandate in 2021 are being rehired and receiving a settlement for their trouble. The Barrington School Committee sacked Brittany DiOrio, Stephanie Hines, and Kerri Thurber over their unwillingness to take the vax. The teachers applied for a religious exemption to the vaccine, but the school system denied the exemption.

In its report, EastBayRI states that the teachers “failed to follow the district’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.” (Remember, comply or else!) However, they sued and won. In addition to giving the teachers their jobs back, the school system had to pay a total of $493,000 in damages.

“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 announced in a press release. “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.”

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Related: The ‘Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’ Is Almost Over

Notice how the statement reflects a desire to move on and not drag the case out any further. EastBayRI detailed what the school district had to pay to make the suit go away.

“The Barrington School District will also extend a payment to DiOrio, Thurber, and Hines — each will receive $33,333,” the report states. “In addition, the teachers will receive backpay. Hines will receive $65,000, Thurber will receive $128,000 and DiOrio will receive $150,000.”

“As part of the settlement, the district will also pay $50,000 to the teachers’ lawyer, Greg Piccirilli, for attorney fees,” the report continues.

Piccirilli called the settlement “extremely gratifying” and added that the teachers “have been proven right. They’ve been vindicated. Their position was right and the Committee has paid a price for it.”

When reporters asked the attorney about the teachers returning to their jobs, he said, “They are officially reinstated. They’ve been made whole.” He also told the press that the teachers “found their strength in their faith.”

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I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that we’ll hear more stories like these. It’s immensely satisfying to see institutions that forced people to comply with ridiculous COVID policies held accountable for denying freedom in such a forceful way.

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