Some Montgomery County teachers fear losing jobs over exemptions for masks, vaccines

Dozens of teachers within Montgomery County Public Schools claim that their job might be in jeopardy if they don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 and/or wear a mask. 

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"They should abide by their own policy abide by the laws of the land which includes the Constitution and our state Constitution," said special education teacher, Angela Harders.

Harders explained to FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Friday, that she was sent home on the first day of school for not wearing a mask. 

Harders added that she had already submitted a doctor’s note and a note for a religious exemption, which she claimed, MCPS has had on file for almost a year.

Harders said she received an official letter Monday which stated that the school system is recommending termination of her employment within MCPS, "for insubordination and misconduct in office."

"They have a policy that is free from discrimination and that they will not discriminate against people based on their religion but that is exactly what they are doing," said Harders.

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"They might say they are not forcing anybody to get the injection and while that may be true, what they are doing is absolutely coercion."

Khan also spoke with MCPS high school teacher, Brenda Diaz, who explained that she is currently on paid administrative leave after she turned in a request for religious exemption when it comes to getting a vaccine and for wearing a mask.

"What's next? What’s next? That’s my question to you (MCPS)," said Diaz. "Should all students 12 and above even be forced to be to taking this vaccine? I will not accept that. I will not comply so I will put myself on the line to make sure that students do not have to be forced to take this vaccine, no, no."

Meanwhile, Harders who has hired legal counsel said that she and dozens of other educators who believe their religious and health exemptions are not being recognized are planning to file a class action lawsuit against MCPS.

"They’re facing that very real choice, to either get this experimental injection or lose my job and it’s not fair, it’s not right and I think that it’s time for us to start taking this battle to the courts," said Harders.

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In an email statement to Khan, MCPS spokesperson, Chris Cram wrote:

"While we can’t speak to specific personnel matters – even confirming if the letter attached is indeed the one sent to Ms. Harders- we can confirm that all MCPS employees and students are required to wear masks while indoors at an MCPS school or facility. It is also true that all employees are required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29th unless there is an authorized medical exemption provided by a medical doctor; there are no religious exemptions allowed.  If employees have concerns they are encouraged to both speak with their supervisor and/or speak with the Employee and Retiree Services Center.

Cram also confirmed that no religious exemptions are permitted for masks.