Grants Pass HS teacher files suit against administration, district over handling of COVID-19 laws

GRANTS PASS, Ore — A long-time special education teacher at Grants Pass High School, is suing the district over its handling of COVID-19 safety protocols in 2020.

Ashland attorney David Lefkowitz is representing Rachel Mercurio in the suit filed in the Josephine county court last week. The suit names Grants Pass High School principal Ryan Thompson, assistant principal Keith Jaroslow, and the Grants Pass School District.

Mercurio claims in the fall of 2020, that she filed multiple reports to the administration about staff not in compliance with COVID related safety mandates- including wearing masks. According to the lawsuit, Mercurio provided the defendants with proof of verbal reports, screenshots, emails, and public video recording.

Following the alleged complaint, Mercurio claims the administration retaliated against her and never addressed the concerns.

“Plaintiff had presumed Defendant District and Thompson would have scheduled a meeting to address Plaintiff’s repeated whistleblowing reports of violations of the law, rules and regulations requiring mask wearing to protect from COVID. Instead, on or about December 18, 2020…Defendants instead compelled Plaintiff to answer questions about her mental fitness, and issued written findings of their mental fitness investigation as part of their retaliatory acts.” The suit claimed.

Mercurio is seeking economic damages in an amount to be, “proved at trial, estimated to be less than $500,000.”

Lefkowitz did not immediately return our request for comment.

The Grants Pass School District said it cannot comment on pending litigation.

This remains a developing story and more details will be released as it becomes available.

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Anthony Carter
Anthony Carter is a reporter for NBC5 News. He grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from Elizabethtown College in 2019. Anthony started his career as a print journalist, covering New York sports and the NBA Draft. He then started his own sports podcast and website covering the Arena Football League. Anthony moved to the Rogue Valley in 2019 as a news producer before joining the NBC5 News family. Anthony likes to workout at the gym, play basketball, and root for his Atlanta Hawks and New York Jets. Want to connect with Anthony? send him an email: [email protected]
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