Letter: The show must go on, but not for the teachers

Posted 1/2/22

To the editor:

Three Barrington school teachers were scheduled for a hearing this past Thursday, Dec. 16 to appeal being placed on unpaid leave with threat of employment termination starting …

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Letter: The show must go on, but not for the teachers

Posted

To the editor:

Three Barrington school teachers were scheduled for a hearing this past Thursday, Dec. 16 to appeal being placed on unpaid leave with threat of employment termination starting January 1, 2022, after their religious freedom to decline liability-free medical experimentation on their bodies was violated by school administration and the school committee, who voted on Oct. 28 to fire them. Thursday’s hearing was cancelled.

Asked why the hearing was cancelled, Superintendent (Mike) Messore replied that it was because administration didn't have enough time to prepare for the hearing, due to a "student [who] made a threat to the school on December 21st [which] resulted in District administration devoting its full attention to this matter." (The threat was made on December 13, for December 21st.) He also cited that, "legal counsel needed time to prepare for a Court hearing in Superior Court on Friday, December 17, 2021 regarding the three educators involved in our hearing." 

He left out the part that the ill-prepared legal counsel is his own, Sarah Rapport, and the 12/17 court date was to hear the Open Meetings Act (OMA) violations complaints against him and the school committee for improperly announcing their plan to mandate medical experiments on employees. Do we accept poor time management as an excuse from Barrington school students for not doing their homework or being prepared for presentations? Yet, administration uses this excuse while the teachers’ livelihoods are at stake.

While I thank Mr. Messore for attending to the safety of the children, which is paramount given the school threat, if he’s in the right for firing the teachers, then he and his attorney have had plenty of time to prepare since the vote almost two months ago. 

While they’ve frittered their time to prepare, the teachers' unpaid leave will now expire before they have their rightful appeal heard. They endure this uncertainty in the midst of the Christmas season which intends to celebrate the beliefs that have now subjected them to discrimination by BPS. Given that kids were in school on Thursday, the day of the hearing, and there were concerts held at the school that evening, which Barrington School Committee Chair Gina Bae attended, the teachers should have been heard and been able to present their evidence that night. 

Messore and Bae seemed comfortable and content enough to opportunistically seize the wake of the school threat as an excuse to cancel the hearing, while enjoying holiday celebrations in direct conflict of interest with their legal obligations to the teachers. They've sent a message that the teachers’ lives and religious freedom in our town, state, and country do not matter. They’ve shirked accountability under the guise of protecting children's lives. It’s shameful.

Messore told me the teachers' hearing is "tentatively" rescheduled for January 6. If you see the disrespect and denial of the teachers' rights for the egregious and dangerous impositions they are, mark your calendars and support the teachers at their hearing. sos.ri.gov Open Government, Find Public Meetings.

Ellen Schaffer

Barrington

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