The three Rhode Island teachers who were terminated for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine have reached a settlement with the school district and have been offered to return to their jobs with full back pay.
The teachers, Kerri Thurber, Stephanie Hines, and Brittany DiOrio were fired from their jobs in Barrington Public Schools after they each requested a religious exemption in response to the school mandating that employees get the vaccine.
Last week the teachers' attorney Greg Piccirilli announced he and the teachers had reached a settlement with the school district that would allow the teachers to be reinstated. Each woman was also entitled to $33,333 in damages in addition to their back pay.
Hines will receive $65,000 under the agreement with Thurber receiving $128,000 and DiOrio getting $150,000.
According to a statement released by the Barrington School District, "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."
Piccirilli said in a statement that his clients are "extremely gratified that they've been vindicated in their position," and added that he will be receiving $50,000 in attorneys fees as part of the settlement.
"A lot of people were dismissive and skeptical of their claims at the time," Piccirilli said adding that "They went through a lot of personal trauma dealing with this. Their faith has gotten them through this."
Meanwhile, Barrington Public Schools has said that it settled with the former teachers for fear that an extended litigation would drain the district's funding and resources. The school district has also attempted to distance itself from its own vaccine mandate.
On Thursday, the Barrington School Committee said, "Our district was navigating an unprecedented health pandemic and leaned on the important recommendations by the CDC and the Rhode Island Department of Health to ensure the safety of our students and school community."
"Our then-policy helped combat the pressing public health crisis of the time, while keeping schools open, and [was] one that nearly all faculty and staff adhere to," the committee concluded.
The teachers were first placed on administrative leave at the end of 2021 prior to being terminated in January 2022. DiOrio has maintained that she "did nothing wrong" saying, "I have done nothing wrong. This is destroying my future ability to earn a living," she said of the mandate.
"What makes me more of a threat now? Is this how a highly-rated school department treats its people?" she had asked at the time.