School board reinstates educators fired for proposing male-only, female-only bathrooms
Their lawsuit continues against allegedly chilling district policies, and lawyer says he doesn't know conditions of their reinstatement.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Oregon's Grants Pass School District voted to reinstate two educators this week after terminating them this summer for starting a campaign to keep biological males and females in their own school restrooms and locker rooms.
Assistant principal Rachel Damiano and science teacher Katie Medart also advocated making it optional for school employees to use their students' preferred gender pronouns as part of their "I Resolve" campaign, which did not identify their school district affiliations.
It was a close vote at a Tuesday evening meeting, according to the Mail Tribune. The board voted 4-3 to overturn Superintendent Kirk Kolb's recommendation to fire them.
"It has been a very difficult seven months" on paid administrative leave, the duo said in a prepared statement. "We are grateful for the courage of the majority of board members that chose to reinstate us," but the district must make it safe for the community "to express themselves without fear of retaliation or cancellation."
The district told the newspaper that personnel confidentiality prevented it from sharing "the details of reinstatement," but implied that it hadn't changed any policies.
"Grants Pass School District 7 will continue to follow all state and federal laws. We have school board policies in place to support safe environments for students and staff, and we will continue protecting the well-being of everyone in our schools," it said.
The Pacific Justice Institute is representing Damiano and Medart in their ongoing First Amendment retaliation lawsuit against the district. It filed an amended complaint in September after U.S. District Judge Mark Clarke refused to issue a temporary restraining order.
Staff attorney Ray Hacke thanked board member Cliff Kuhlman for reversing his summer vote this week, swinging the majority, but said the public interest law firm didn't know the terms of their reinstatement.
The district's retaliation against employees for speaking on "matters of public concern" made clear that "any employee who dares anger the woke mob will be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness," he said.
The district "still has policies in place that could potentially chill their speech in the future," and it owes them damages for putting them "through an emotional wringer for the past seven months," Hacke said.
Judge Clarke approved a protective order on Monday to shield "documents and information relating to student records
protected by the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) and medical and counseling records" during litigation.
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