GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Two Grants Pass educators were fired Thursday night after violating school district policies. NBC5 News told you this spring about how the two women were sharing their personal beliefs on proposed LGBTQ+ legislation at both the state and federal level on the internet. Some called the comments made by the educators insensitive and asked for their termination. Now for the first time, we’re hearing from the former educators.
A four-hour hearing resulted in two Grants Pass educators getting fired Thursday night.
“It’s sad to see that we are being punished for giving ideas. And we don’t think any educator has to go through that,” said Rachel Damiano, former North Middle School Assistant Principal.
A 4-to-3 vote made it a close call. Ultimately after hiring a private investigator the Grants Pass School Board agreed with the final investigation recommending to fire North Middle School’s Rachel Damiano and Katie Medart.
“I think it became very clear that it was about our speech and not in violation of board policy,” said Damiano.
But the school board disagreed.
“The hearing today was to determine whether or not that the board policy was violated. It was not to render any sort of opinion on the ‘I Resolve’ movement itself,” said Brian Delagrange, Grants Pass School Board Member.
Delagrange said after reading hundreds of pages of the investigation he believes the former educators violated district policy by using district equipment for personal use. The educators also allegedly worked on their ‘I Resolve’ movement while on the job.
But board member Gary Richardson said he didn’t believe the investigation told the whole story and included errors.
“It was a little disappointing to hear one board member say that she just believed the investigator. Okay, but he made mistakes,” said Richardson.
But the fight isn’t over for the former educators. Friday is their first hearing on a federal lawsuit against Grants Pass School District 7. They are suing over alleged first amendment violations, including freedom of speech and religion. They hope by winning this case it’ll give educators their freedom back.