The Redmond school board voted 3-2 to let a Terrebonne elementary school teacher keep her job despite her refusal to wear a mask.
Superintendent Charan Cline led a termination hearing was held Wednesday night.
The hearing was for fourth-grade teacher at Terrebonne Community School, Tori Caudell, for refusing to wear a mask.
Cline and Caudell were each given 15 minutes to speak and an additional five minutes of rebuttal before the Redmond School Board approved or disapproved of Cline’s recommendation for termination.
“Ms. Caudell has intentionally and repeatedly refused to follow the clear directive that complies with the Oregon law,” said Cline. “In this case the rule adopted by the Oregon Health Authority at the direction of the Governor is that all staff and students wear face masks at school.”
Cline said the school district has 184 students currently in quarantine.
“Ms. Caudell was directed to follow the law multiple times, she was given multiple opportunities to comply and refused to do so, thus she has been insubordinate and has engaged in neglected duty that could jeopardize her teaching license,” Cline said during his closing statement. “Therefore, I have no choice but to recommend that the board dismiss Ms. Caudell from her employment with the district.”
During Caudell’s allotted time she read parts of the Bill of Rights, as well as quoting George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
“By forcing people to wear masks, you are infringing on my safety and my liberty as a person,” Caudell said.
Caudell has taught for the Redmond School District for 23 years.
She showed up to the first day of school refusing to wear a mask.
“I have not broken any law and by refusing to wear a mask. I am holding my constitutional rights,” Caudell concluded.
However, Oregon mandates handed down during a state of emergency carry the same weight as law.
After the statements, board members Michael Summers, Shawn Hartfield and Keri Lopez voted in favor of Caudell keeping her job with the district, but she is not allowed in a school building without wearing a mask.
Board members Jill Cummings and Liz Goodrich disagreed.
Summers and Hartfield have been staunch opponents of the state’s mask mandates from the beginning.
Before the school year started, they drafted a resolution against the mandate and considered defying the mask orders, but Cline stepped in and said the district would follow all state COVID rules.
Caudell is not allowed in a school building without wearing a mask.
“It would go back to an operational standpoint, so it will go back to the district and the district will have to figure out what they are going to do,” Hartfield said.