REDMOND, Ore. (AP) — A school board in Redmond, Oregon, has rejected a district recommendation to fire a teacher for refusing to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Redmond board members were told this was the first time an Oregon school board faced a decision to fire a teacher based on a COVID-19 mandate from Gov. Kate Brown.
On Wednesday the board voted 3-2 to reject the recommendation to terminate Terrabonne Community School teacher Tori Caudell.
Now that the board has rejected the termination, district officials will have to work with Caudell to figure out how to move forward and make a decision about her employment.
Caudell said wearing a mask made her lightheaded and foggy, and that it was child abuse to force children to wear them.
“I feel like I’m doing something wrong every time I put a mask on my face,” Caudell said. “I feel like a traitor to everyone who fights for our country when I cover my face and my identity.”
Redmond School District Superintendent Charan Cline said the district’s human resources office offered alternatives to Caudell and explained how to apply for a medical exemption.
Cline said the mask mandate is one of the many federal, state and local rules schools have to follow.
“We can not pick and choose which laws to follow based on our individual, political, or religious opinions, nor can we allow our staff to do so, nor can we allow our staff to simply disregard a law if they believe it’s unconstitutional or otherwise illegal,” Cline said.
He also warned of the broader ramifications of allowing Caudell’s insubordination.
“Although the mask rule is the topic of the night, the board should consider the precedent it would set if it does not respond to Ms. Caudell’s refusal to follow the law,” Cline warned.