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Redmond school board approves retaining legal counsel over COVID-19 mandates

(Update: Adding video, comments)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Redmond School Board voted 4-1 Tuesday night to retain outside legal counsel as it seeks to regain local control when it comes to state mask and vaccination mandates.

The board chose to hire Dan Thenell of the Portland-based Thenell Law Group to look at possible legal actions.

Thenell is also representing Oregon State Police troopers and firefighters, as well as health care workers in lawsuits challenging Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority over vaccine mandates.

Back in August, the board passed a resolution on a 3-2 vote that “demands” the state return control of pandemic safety measures such as mask and vaccine requirements to local school districts, threatening possible legal action, and rejected adding back an explicit promise to follow the mandates in the meantime. (Though Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline said the district would do just that.)

The resolution’s long list of “whereas” clauses noted that the state expects schools to return to full-time, in-person classes this fall, while more recently requiring everyone to wear masks indoors for most activities at school, and that all school staff and visitors be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

Board Chair Shawn Hartfield, who voted in favor, said she wants to focus on the job they were elected to do, which she says is to give kids a quality education.

"I don't think any of us want to put our kids in danger," Hartfield said. "I'm a very protective mother and I make sure my kids are safe everyday. So that's what I think this is about. Not just going out and creating lawsuits to have a lawsuit." 

Board member Michael Summers says he hopes to find another path forward, or a way to explore options through legal counsel.

"My hope is that we are able to find another path or at least explore other options, it doesn't necessarily mean we are in defiance," Summers said. "We've been given two options and the statement essentially there's no other way, there's no other option." 

Liz Goodrich, the lone board member who did not approve of outside legal counsel, said she was curious if the board had an appetite for spending what could be a large amount on legal fees.

The board says up to 130 staff members could be out of a job, due to the vaccine mandate, but Superintendent Dr. Charan Cline says he fully expects that number to drop by the deadline as more are vaccinated.

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.



      1. Its the republican way now. Spend tons of money on totally failed, petty, juvenile lawsuits that accomplish nothing except to please the petulent, lifeless whiners. “Lawyers not children” should be Redmond’s new mantra!!! Rather than **** BIDEN!!!!! ROTFLMAO!!!! Sooooooooooooooooo much losing!!!!

        1. 40+million to investigate Trump for colluding with Russia, but yea it’s the Republican way.
          Fun to have you around. Hypocrisy is fun to laugh at.

    1. Yep. Meanwhile, in Bend-Lapine, kids are wearing masks and none of them are being rushed to hospitals for CO2 poisoning or whatever nonsense people are spreading about masks.

    1. So you would give up control to this federal government? You want to let this federal government control you and your ability to make your own decisions? Are you so helpless that you feel you can’t make a decision for yourself? I’ve been deciding my own fate for quite some time now. I don’t need the government deciding how I will live my life or keep myself safe. The federal government and the state and local governments can bug off. It’s MY LIFE, not theirs! I won’t be dictated to

  1. Good for the school board. The Federal or State governments are SUPPOSED to only have just so much power (according to the Constitution) and not rule/dictate to all counties in a blanket “one size fits all” manner. The mandate is a dictate – NOT LEGAL and NOT an actual LAW.

    1. Can you cite how your argument is codified into law? Referencing the Constitution, state and local laws? I’m curious how you arrived that conclusion.

      1. Can you cite where in the state constitution is gives legislative authority to unelected bureaucrats like those at Oregon Health Authority? Not even the Governor has the authority to give this authority to a bureaucrat.

        1. “Can you cite where in the state constitution is gives legislative authority to unelected bureaucrats like those at Oregon Health Authority?”

          Uh, yeah…the Legislature has the authority to make laws, and they made laws that created the Oregon Health Authority. This isn’t that difficult to understand.

          1. It’s difficult for anti-vaxxers & anti-maskers to understand even the most basic readin’ writin’ and maths. Understand law? Heck No. But they’ll spend your tax dollars fighting for their skewed version of how things should be. This will inevitably fail, and the taxpayer will fund another fruitless & pointless lawsuit that fails at every level. Great time to be a lawyer though!

  2. Kudos to the Redmond School Board for doing what is in the best interest of the students and staff in their district. Wish all school boards would listen to the families they represent and do what needs to be done to protect the kids from unnecessary harm.

    1. doing the best thing, like trying to get the graduation rate over 75%, or adding teachers to improve the dismal 23-1 student to teacher ratio, or, imagine this: GIVING TEACHERS RAISES. Only the best things, right?

      1. Makes you wonder what line item in their budget they had to delete and/or adjust to cover legal fees. The only one reaping anything from this action is the attorney.

  3. I’m not sure what this will accomplish, challenging the Governor and OHA. Isn’t the state now under a federal mandate requiring vaccinations for teachers and school staff?

    1. That’s my impression also. Also lots of rules about how tax payer money is spent and what it can be spent on so I’m sure they are walking a tight line here. Take a look at the vaccination rates for Redmond. They are pretty high. They show those 65 and up are vaccinated and want to stay safe from COVID-19. Even 18 and up is close to 70% with 12 and up in the upper 60’s. This tells me it is not a majority of people that want the school board fighting masks and vaccinations, but a very loud, smaller group. I believe in parents speaking at school boards, I am not as excited about the amount of local money going to pay for this lawyer over a fight that hasn’t won a solid case (that I’m aware of) in the United States.

      1. I don’t think the issue is about masks and vaccines. The issue is about mandates. Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask doesn’t make a person blind to how government is forcibly removing highly valued members of critical systems. People see the irrational nature of the mandate. The mandate is not about health and safety. It is about a vaccine, and not just any vaccine but one that does not even work as intended. The mandate orders these vaccines irrespective of damages to public health and safety. People cannot understand how firing 25% of frontline medical staff is a solution for overrun hospitals. They rightly see how terminating firefighters and peace officers is counterproductive to health and safety. I’m not involved in the school system but I suspect much of the same applies.

        1. What exactly is a vaccine suppose to do that this one doesn’t? How is a vaccine for a virus that is the cause of over 700,000 people dying in the last year not about health and safety? Which hospitals are you talking about? I could swear that St. Charles is the hospital in Bend and they have stated that over 90 percent of their staff is now vaccinated.

        2. lol, you guys are nuts. The vaccines in the US are all 90%+ effective. Notice how it’s overwhelmingly unvaccinated folk winding up in the hospitals and dying? It’s not a coincidence.

  4. Wow. Aren’t they always crying around about needing more money for teachers/supplies. Yet they take what they are given to educate and spend it on a lawyer. I Will never vote for them or vote to give them more money again if this is how it gets spent. Hope they are all out of jobs soon

    1. Well let’s think about this. You say they are always crying for more teachers… and then criticize them for fighting a mandate that threatens to take the teachers they already have?

      1. The mandate is to at least try and ensure some type of safety for the teachers, staff, children, parents, etc etc. etc. As someone stated yesterday. COVID is not just going to go away and a school board basing their decisions on political basis instead of what our medical community is telling us is foolish. And more importantly, as we’ve seen with the number of unvaccinated COVID patients in the ICU’s, life threatening.

        1. Well if the transmission rate is the same which the CDC has stated now several times in various reports than the mandate has nothing to do with keeping people safe from others. Therefore the mandate is purely about forced control. It should be an individuals choice whether to inject a foreign substance into their bodies, not the governments.

  5. What budget item that would actually help the kids, was cut to pay for this? Appearently the board feels they have plenty of money to waste at $350/hr. Won’t be getting my vote next time they come begging for more money.

  6. Thank you Redmond School Board! Apparently a bunch of commenters on here are not from Redmond and are not familiar with the individuals elected last May. They are supporting what they said they would during the election and what the voters in Redmond want. Redmond is not Bend (thank God), stop trying to make it into Bend. If you want Bend nonsense, move to Bend.

  7. This is their only option to try and retain the 110 employees that they may lose. The Oct 18th deadline is misleading and most people don’t understand the true dynamics at play here.

    In order to continue to be employed by the district an employee has to either be FULLY vaccinated by the 18th OR fill out the exemption form. The 110+ employees have either not been FULLY vaccinated or have not filled out the form yet.

    They missed the deadline for vaccination. That was yesterday. I’m sure the drivers calling in “sick” was an attempt to show everyone what will happen after the 18th. It’s obvious that they chose Monday because tuesday was the real deadline. No I don’t have a source Barney other than common sense and deduction.

    In order to be FULLY vaccinated you need to have the full dose in your system for two weeks. The only hope for the district to keep those employees is to 1. Have them fill out the exemption form. 2. Win a winless lawsuit. or 3. Kate Brown lifts her mandate.

    This lawsuit, in my opinion, is an attempt by the school board to show the public that they are doing everything in their power to keep schools open. It may be a legit attempt to win. either way the grim reality is that after Oct 18th the district will have to go back to some form of CDL. They will not have enough bus drivers to transport kids. They can’t keep cancelling certain routes.

  8. Go to restaurant make sure you wear your mask, go in sit down take off mask cough sneeze eat put on mask walk out. Go to ball game 100,000 fans no mask drinking hollering sneezing all is well. Go to school same dumb rules as restaurant this is all BS. Open the schools take off the masks and enjoy life because what these power hungry goons like Kate will not solve a damn thing. All is about power and your are supposed to lay down and shutup.

  9. The Redmond School Board is doing the right thing. The state mandate is on very thin ice when it mandates everyone take an experimental vaccine. Yes, I know Phizer’s Corminaty is now “FDA approved” so they likely can mandate people take that vaccine. But Corminaty is not and will not be available here in Oregon and so we only have the “experimental, EUA” versions. The state mandate gives no credit for natural immunity which shows the mandate is not about health. The mandate pretends the vaccinated don’t spread the disease, which we now know to not be so. And these vaccines, while having an “adverse event” rate of under 1%, are still having these “events” at a rate of about 20X what an average flu vaccine would produce, and even greater than that for people who are covid-recovered: folks have to be free to make this risk/reward choice for themselves since it is not clear cut.

    I just read the obit of a young mother in Seattle who died from reaction to a vaccine she was coerced to take so she could continue being a teacher’s aid in her daughter’s classroom. That school is going to pay out some big bucks over that one.

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