The Oklahoma City public school board unanimously voted to fire six teachers for refusing to follow the school mask mandate.
After those teachers struck back with a lawsuit against the district, three of them shared their story Friday on “Fox & Friends First.”
“It was not about the mask. It was never about the mask. It was always about the rule of law,” teacher James Taylor told host Todd Piro.
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The tenured educators failed to comply with the mask mandate that was intended to protect staff and students against the coronavirus and were suspended on Aug. 16 when the mandate went into effect, The Oklahoman reported. Though district workers can apply for medical exemptions, the six teachers only claimed personal reasons for refusing to comply with the mask mandate. Their lawsuit was filed against the district and the superintendent, Sean McDaniel.
Taylor cited Oklahoma Senate bill 658, arguing masks cannot be mandated unless there is a state of emergency declared by the governor.
“Well, that wasn’t the case. It was just always about the rule of law. And as I said in my testimony, if the rule of law is ignored, then we no longer have a republic, we have tyranny and that’s what the bottom line is,” he said.
Teacher Grace Trick said the firing was “shocking” to her. The Argentina native said she “never thought this would happen in the United States of America.”
In Argentina, she said she witnessed politicians act as though they were “above the law.”
“I was just deeply saddened to see someone in power believe that they’re above the law and when I became a United States citizen, I took an oath to follow the law. We as educators should be the moral example for students to follow,” she added.
Grace’s husband, Nelson, was also fired and is looking for a teaching job elsewhere.
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Blake Sonne, a lawyer representing the teachers, said the superintendent is “politicizing the issue,” disputing that the district is within legal grounds to fire the teachers.
“It’s really a travesty, honestly. We’re at a teacher shortage in Oklahoma. And we have five excellent tenured teachers that were just let go because the superintendent and now the school board decided that they were above the law,” he said.
McDaniel, after recommending the firings in August, said the teachers “crossed what I believe to be statutory lines and expectations for our educators.”
“When I became aware clearly that these teachers were unwilling to do that, to take this next step to wear a mask, knowing that it would reduce the risk of exposure to COVID, that’s what prompted me to say they have violated the standards of performance and conduct of teaching,” he said.