Medford woman pleads guilty in Grants Pass HS demonstrations
A Medford teenager pleaded guilty earlier this month to preventing an officer from making an arrest during a large “walk out” that occurred several months ago at Grants Pass High School in response to two controversial educators being reinstated to their jobs.
Court documents dated Jan. 13 show that Lillyana Audley, 19, pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with a peace officer, a Class A misdemeanor. She must pay $100 to the court.
A charge of disorderly conduct in the second degree was dropped and she got credit for time she served in jail. Josephine County records show she was booked and released Nov. 16, the same day the demonstrations at GPHS occurred.
The demonstrations began in response to the Grants Pass school board’s decision in November to give former North Middle School Assistant Principal Rachel Damiano and former science teacher Katie Medart their jobs back (both women now work at another institution, the online learning academy, GPFLEX).
Audley’s attorney Brodia Minter of Southern Oregon Public Defenders, issued a statement to the Mail Tribune via email late Wednesday, saying her client was not currently available for comment.
“My take is that every child deserves to feel safe in school,” Minter wrote. “The students were practicing their constitutional right to freedom of speech to demand anti-trans teachers were not reinstated. I am proud to stand with the queer and trans youth who are demanding safety at their schools.”
Medart and Damiano had been fired in the summer of 2021 after a district investigation concluded, among other things, that they used professional equipment and did not distance themselves enough from their titles when they publicly promoted educational policies emphasizing biological sex over gender preferences.
But months later, after the board voted to reinstate the women as employees, word quickly spread that there would be a walk out at GPHS Nov. 16, consisting of LGBTQA+ allies who were against Medart and Damiano returning to school.
At approximately 1:48 p.m., about 200-300 students gathered in front of the Grants Pass High School Ninth Street entrance and eventually blocked the road, according to a news release sent by city police at the time.
But after officers were sent to the scene to protect the group’s right to free speech, counter-protesters showed up leading to a clash between the two groups, which the Mail Tribune covered.
Audley caught police attention when she tried to prevent an officer from arresting a 14-year-old female student who authorities say began swinging a broomstick at a male. The juvenile was cited for disorderly conduct at the Josephine County Juvenile Justice Center before being released to a parent. Audley was arrested and lodged at the jail for charges of rioting, second degree disorderly conduct and interfering with police.
Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.