bus drivers call in sick

Sage Elementary School students walk home from school with their parents Monday. Seven Redmond school bus drivers called in sick, forcing the district to cancel some routes.

The Redmond School Board will hire a Portland-based attorney to oppose state mask and vaccination mandates that have been leveled on K-12 schools to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The board voted 4-1 during a special meeting Tuesday to hire Thenell Law Group to represent the school district.

Shawn Hartfield, the board’s chairwoman, said she is not ready to lose employees needed to keep Redmond schools open as a result of the vaccine mandate.

“We’ve got to do something,” she said.

The action follows a resolution the board approved in late August opposing the mandates. The board demanded local control over pandemic-related safety measures and vowed it would take legal action against the mandates and the use of medical and religious exemptions.

Gov. Kate Brown announced the mask mandate in late July for everyone in K-12 schools. The vaccine mandate announced in August, gives K-12 school staff and volunteers until Oct. 18 to get vaccinated against the virus or get approved for a medical or religious exemption.

Redmond School District expects to have numbers on how many employees are vaccinated and how many filed for exemptions later this week.

The district will pay Thenell Law Group a $5,000 retainer, which will be used to pay legal fees. The legal services will cost the district $200 to $350 per hour, and if the retainer is exhausted during the case, the school board may be asked to replenish funds.

Hartfield said the district’s attorney advised the board to seek outside counsel for the issue. Money to pay for the legal services will come out of the district’s contingency funds, which are savings for unexpected costs.

Liz Goodrich, the board member who voted against hiring legal support, asked how much the board is willing to spend. She pointed to a lawsuit brought by the conservative think tank, Freedom Foundation, challenging the governor’s mask mandate that was dismissed by the Oregon Court of Appeals in September after more than a year.

“If you’re talking about 14 months of that kind of expense, is that really how we want our district money to be spent? I’m not comfortable at all with that kind of bill,” Goodrich said. “I’m not sure how this benefits our kids.”

In September, the board voted against its Superintendent Charan Cline’s recommendation to fire Tori Caudell, an elementary school teacher at Terrebonne Community School who refused to wear a mask in school. The board also asked the district to come up with a “creative” way to retain the teacher.

The school district on Monday canceled several school bus routes affecting over 140 students after seven bus drivers called in sick. It is believed the drivers called in sick as part of a coordinated walkout in protest of the governor’s vaccine mandate.

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(8) comments




I Totally applaud The Redmond School District for defending people's ability to decide for themselves if they want or do not want this experiment! This is not BLM or any other stupidity but our lives, civil liberties and CHOICE! nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your body! it is up to the parents to decide what is best for their children! STOP THE MANDATES and the communist narrative being implemented by this authoritarian administration!

Don't Assume

Why is a school board even exploring this legal action?

Why would they think that there was a chance a school board could have greater authority than the federal government?

Why would any school board think it was appropriate to engage in partisan politics as opposed to running the district like they're supposed to?

Why would any employee think that they could keep their job when they refuse to comply with what they were ordered to do by their employer and/or the federal government?

You have to have a license to drive a car and you have to have special license and a clean record to drive commercially.

You have to have a certain degree/certificate to be a teacher, a dentist, a contractor, etc.

No one is asking anyone to do anything and that hasn't already been asked over and over again in our history. There are well-founded legal precedences.

If you've ever cleaned septic tanks, or worked for certain construction companies, you'll know that due to liability concerns it is mandatory that you have a current tetanus shot.

The majority of people alive and of voting age in this nation today grew up in a time where there was no religious exemption for having vaccinations to go to school, up to and including attending a university.

It doesn't matter if the vaccine works or not the legal question is can they require it and the answer is a resounding yes.

Even if you were a person who did not want these vaccination requirements you wouldn't want the school district to burn through all of its money fighting a hopeless battle.

100% that law firm knows this is not a case they can win but they'll be more than happy to take as much money as possible and rack up the billable hours. If you don't believe me about that then you've never known a lawyer or someone that worked for a successful civil law firm.


Great comment. Under the "Religious Exemption" excuse, I would love to hear the explanation of one requesting it given to God/Jesus by them. I'm thinking God/Jesus wouldn't approve of someone putting multiple people in harm's way.


Maybe it's time for some folks who support the COVID vaccines and mask wearing to"strongly"comment at a future board meeting just as we have seen the anti folks perform on a national basis. Presenting facts and science doesn't seem to have any affect.


Considering that Thennel and other clients just had a motion to stay the Vaccine Mandate dismissed by Oregon Court of Appeals; the School board is wasting their time and taxpayer's resources.


The Redmond School Board has created a “tail wagging the dog” atmosphere where the only ones that win are attorneys, this time at taxpayer expense. After 30+ years of supporting the Redmond School District, I will be thinking twice before voting yes for any future school bond requests.


I wonder how many board members are using tested scientific data about COVID vaccines to protect our children....I'm guessing 0. also, as a corollary to "fire all the lawyers", how 'bout fire all the drivers who are taking part in the "action".

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