GRANADA HILLS (CBSLA) – Several Los Angeles Unified School District employees at a Granada Hills charter school became the first district staffers to lose their jobs for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

(credit: CBS)

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“I was formally terminated,” said Iris Arnold.

Arnold said she lost her teaching job of 15 years at Granada Hills Charter High School for not getting the coronavirus vaccine. She is one of seven employees at the high school launching a lawsuit claiming they were the first to be fired for not getting the shot.

She said personal beliefs, as well as medical concerns, were what prevented her from getting the vaccine.

Sarah Olczak was also terminated for not getting the vaccine. She’s been a counselor at the school for 13 years.

“My requests were religious…sincerely held belief based and medical based. Then, I also have a history of cancer,” Olczak said.

Although Granada High is a charter school, it does fall under LAUSD’s jurisdiction for the vaccine mandate. Administrators have said the mandate is in place to protect everyone on each campus.

When asked if they were concerned about unwittingly placing students and other district employees in danger if they contracted the virus, Arnold said she’s never tested positive and that she tests every single week and is willing to test daily if needed.

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“This has been very difficult for everybody and we always want to blame sombody. It’s very easy to blame people who aren’t doing their part,” Olczak said. “But I can assure you, I do my part to keep everybody around me safe because with my compromised immune system, I’m not trying to get sick.”

Granada Hills Charter said the staffers lost their jobs after confirming they would not get the vaccines.

The school released a statement that reads in part:

(Our) actions in this regard were guided first and foremost by what is lawful and in the best interest of preserving the health and safety of its students, employees and the surrounding community.”

Loyola Law Professor Jessical Levison weighed in on how these types of cases generally play out in court.

“Medical exemptions can be a pretty big opening if you’re able to find physicians who will sign statements saying, ‘This person should not get a vaccine.'”

In the case of the seven employees at Granada Charter, we know at least one did not get that paperwork. For now, though, as the legal battle plays out, the fallout becomes emotional.

“I’m the counselor, so I go with feelings. It really…even though it’s kind of anticipatory grief, you know that it’s coming. We’ve been warned, we’ve been warned, but when it comes, it’s still shocking,” Olczak said.

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At least one of the board members at the charter school resigned in protest before the vote happened to fire the now former employees. As for the lawsuit, it’s unclear if the teachers and counselors are trying to get reinstated or if they are suing for financial damages.