Sneak Agenda Item Ruled a Violation
In news first reported by The Ocean State Current yesterday, on a story it has followed for months, the RI Superior Court issued a strong rebuke against the Barrington School Committee when Judge Lanphear ruled that the committee violated Rhode Island’s Open Meeting Act when it failed to provide required notice of its controversial vaccine mandate policy in the fall of 2021. By failing to adequately describe its planned agenda item to vote on the vaccine mandate question, the Superior Court ruled that the plaintiff teachers – and the public – were essentially denied their right to comment on the proposal.
In many school districts across Rhode Island, vigilant parents have been exposing many other controversial curriculum and other unpopular school policies that left-leaning school committees have been trying to sneak through (often successfully) without transparency, without public scrutiny, and without parental consent.
This is the second major hit this week suffered by the Barrington school committee, when, under massive pressure from local and national media embarrassment, it reversed course and re-instituted honors courses and honor designations for students, after it’s social-equity inspired “de-leveling” directive was announced; a directive that would have eliminated advanced-placement courses for higher-achieving students, without providing any data or rationale as to why such an extreme policy could be justified.
On a broader level, the entire town of Barrington and its school board have suffered local and national ridicule about many other of its questionable policies, resulting in an uprising by citizens and parents as described in this Great Barrington Awokening national column.
It is unclear at this point what remedy the court will order for the three teacher plaintiffs, who refused the vaccine mandate based on religious exemptions, and who were placed on leave and eventually fired. The teachers were interviewed by Mike Stenhouse on his April 6 In The Dugout podcast.
According to a media release by the teachers’ attorney, Gregory Piccirilli:
Today, Judge Lanphear of the RI Superior Court gave a thoughtful and scholarly decision upholding the right of the public to open government when he found that the Barrington School Committee failed to provide proper notice of its vaccine mandate policy.
My clients, Brittany Stephanie and Kerri are so grateful that the Court vindicated their right to present their comments on this vaccine policy before it was passed. But this is not just a victory for them, it is for all Barrington residents. As the Judge states:
“A new protocol setting policy during a pandemic is not only important to the teacher-plaintiffs, but it is reasonable to conclude that it would be important to the district’s 3366 students, their parents, administrators, other teachers, visitors to the schools and to the public at large.”
We look forward to further proceedings to obtain full justice for these brave teachers. As the Judge further noted:
“For the three plaintiffs, who claimed religious exemptions to the mandate, the vaccine mandate was not just controversial, it cost them their jobs. Moreover, they were the ones who would be subject to the nonvoluntary and controversial vaccination injections. The Plaintiffs refused to take the vaccines, were suspended and then terminated, with little recourse.”
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?