'I Resolve' educators terminated by Grants Pass School Board
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Two North Middle School educators were terminated Thursday in a public hearing by the Grants Pass School District board, after they launched a campaign asking community members and leaders to speak out against proposed LGBTQ legislation.
At Grants Pass High School, school board members voted 4-3 in favor of terminating both educators.
Former North Middle School assistant principal Rachel Damiano and former science teacher Katie Medart were placed on leave pending an investigation at the end of March, after posting a video and creating a website to launch their "I Resolve Movement."
The premise of their stance against the LGBTQ legislation is that they believe students should be required to use "anatomically-correct," bathrooms unless individual "gender-neutral" bathrooms are built. They also oppose legislation that would require teachers to use students' preferred pronouns.
"A student may, with parent permission, request to be referred to with preferred pronouns, but it will not be mandated that students or staff be required to use the preferred pronouns," their petition/mock resolution reads.
Their stance targets the Federal House Resolution known as the Equity Act which would add LGBTQ protections to existing civil rights law thus requiring desegregation laws such as those applying to public facilities and public education to include "sexual orientation and gender identity." The Bill passed the U.S. House but faces challenges in the Senate.
Both Damiano and Medart's public hearings were held Thursday, where a third-party investigator examined complaints that Damiano and Medart violated District policies. The Grants Pass School Board then considered whether or not the complaints should be dismissed. Superintendent Kirk Kolb recommended termination of both employees.
Around 65 people protested in favor of both educators. The protests started around 2:30 p.m. and lasted until 6:30 p.m. Not every supporter was able to attend the meetings, because of fire marshal capacity. Those who did not attend chanted in honor of Damiano and Medart from the front of Grants Pass High School.
Some arguments from the school board were that educators were using school equipment and work hours to work on their "I Resolve Movement." They were also accused of representing the school district while "politically campaigning."
Damiano's hearing began at 3 p.m., where she denied allegations of "political campaigning." She also stated that Medart and herself didn't use work resources or work hours to work on the "I Resolve Movement."
Four board members voted in favor of Damiano's dismissal, and three against. Damiano was then terminated.
There were loud shriek's from around 50 individuals in the public meeting, stating Damiano shouldn't have been terminated. There were no visible supporters of Damiano's termination within the crowd.
Medart's hearing began at 5 p.m., following Damiano's conclusion. The meeting was similar to Damiano's and Medart also denied allegations of "political campaigning" and the use of work resources and hours.
The board then voted on whether to go against the Superintendent's recommendation, after freedom of speech was presented. After a majority voted against the motion, the board voted 4-3 in favor to terminate Medart's employment.
Damiano and Medart have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Grants Pass School District of violating their rights under the First Amendment. They are represented by Ray Hacke of the Pacific Justice Institute.