“Today it’s the mask issue. Tomorrow who knows what it’ll be,” said Ginger Tinney, Professional Oklahoma Educators Executive Director.
The lawsuit comes less than three weeks after OKCPS required face coverings be worn on all school property. Regardless of vaccination status.
An attorney working for Professional Oklahoma Educators is representing the teachers.
POE’s Ginger Tinney says the lawsuit isn’t just about masks– it’s about whether educators should listen to their employers– or state law.
Referring to Senate Bill 658– which prohibits Oklahoma schools from requiring students and staff to wear a mask.
Tinney says the lawsuit is moving forward, despite Wednesday’s temporary injunction on Senate Bill 658.
“Our members came in and we laid out all the what-ifs and they decided they were following their decision,” Tinney said.
According to the lawsuit, on August 26th, Superintendent Sean McDaniel recommended the teachers be terminated– saying “the basis of my recommendation for your termination is that your repeated refusal to wear a mask constitutes your willful neglect of duty.”
OKCPS sent KFOR this statement.
“On August 13, OKCPS adopted Administrative Regulation C-26-R2 which requires face coverings to be worn on school property, in school vehicles, and at school-sponsored events regardless of vaccination status. It is paramount that we provide our students a safe and healthy learning environment.
OKCPS families can choose to opt-out of this requirement for medical, religious or personal reasons, and all district staff also have the opportunity to request a medical accommodation, if needed.
On August 26, 2021, six OKCPS educators were notified of the Superintendent’s recommendation for termination to the Board of Education following their refusal to comply with our mask requirement regulation. While we cannot discuss the details of personnel matters, OKCPS continues to believe — and public health officials across the board agree — that masks along with a variety of other safeguards will give us the best chance to keep OKCPS students and staff safe, healthy and learning together in-person on our campuses.
As always, the health and safety of OKCPS students and staff is our highest priority.”
Oklahoma City employment attorney Mark Hammons says the teachers still could be fired.
“The answer is at least potentially they can be. Again, the state law would be the biggest impediment to that. Hopefully, they wouldn’t rush to a termination,” Hammon said.
The lawsuit also says the due process termination hearings would be set by the school board at the Sept. 13 board meeting.
On Friday, attorneys for the teachers are asking the court to stop Oklahoma City Public Schools from enforcing their mask policy.
They’re also asking for the teachers to be reinstated.