Three Rhode Island teachers who were fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine have been offered their jobs back with full back pay after reaching a settlement with the school district.
Teachers Stephanie Hines, Brittany DiOrio, and Kerri Thurber were terminated from their positions in Barrington Public Schools after they had requested a religious exemption after the school mandated employees get the vaccine.
Last week, their attorney, Greg Piccirilli, and the school district said they had reached a settlement, allowing the teachers to return to their jobs. They are also each entitled to $33,333 in damages along with their back pay. DiOrio will get $150,000, Thurber will get $128,000, and Hines will receive $65,000 under the agreement.
“The three teachers have the opportunity to return to teaching positions within the Barrington School District should they choose to do so, at the steps they would have been at had they worked continuously,” the Barrington Public Schools district said in a statement on May 11.
In a statement to the Boston Globe, Piccirilli said that his clients are “extremely gratified that they’ve been vindicated in their position,” adding that he will get $50,000 in attorneys fees as part of the settlement. “A lot of people were dismissive and skeptical of their claims at the time,” he told the Boston Globe. “They went through a lot of personal trauma dealing with this. Their faith has gotten them through this.”
Meanwhile, Barrington Public Schools told the Providence Journal that it reached the settlement because the litigation would likely put a drag on the school’s resources and funding. It attempted to distance itself from its own vaccine mandate by claiming that it was dealing with the spread of COVID-19, although there is a growing body of evidence that shows the vaccines do not prevent the spread of the virus.
Read more: Fired Teachers Who Refused COVID Vaccine to Get Full Reinstatement and Back Pay