Carla Hale, the lesbian physical education teacher who was fired from her job at a Columbus, Ohio, Catholic high school, will receive no support from her teachers’ union in appealing her case to higher authorities.
Hale, who was fired from Bishop Watterson H.S. after listing her partner’s name in her mother’s obituary, had asked the grievance committee of the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators (COACE) to take up her cause, but they returned a negative response, according to a report in the Columbus Dispatch.
The Dispatch quotes the union’s letter explaining their decision:
“COACE’s decision should not be interpreted as reflecting unfavorably upon Ms. Hale as a person or as an educator. She is known to COACE as a caring and compassionate educator whose professionalism is unquestioned.”
Lack of union support means that Hale will have to finance her appeals on her own, and her supporters have established a fund for her. A group of 5,000 people calling themselves “Halestorm, Ohio” have set up a website that is able to receive donations for the case. It also provides updates of actions and continuing developments.
Kathleen Mahoney, the union president, said the decision was “extremely difficult” to make:
“These dedicated members of the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators spent many agonizing hours reviewing the facts of the Carla Hale case. It was their decision that the agreement had been violated and that there was not a case to bring to arbitration.”
The union said that they have an agreement with the diocese that teachers will live in accord with Catholic teaching.
NBC4i.com reports the wording of the agreement:
“A contract may be terminated at any time for gross inefficiency or immorality, for serious unethical conduct or willful and or persistent violations of regulations of the school or Diocesan Office of the Catholic Church.”
Hale disputes that she violated the agreement:
“I did not violate the terms of my employment at Bishop Watterson. While I would prefer to have COACE backing, I recognize the tremendous support I receive on a daily basis. My decision to acknowledge a loved one in my mother’s obit was not immoral. I am not immoral.”
Hale’s next step is to appeal to Superintendent Lucia McQuaide of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. If that fails, she has the option of bringing a suit against the school.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
April 24, 2013: Fired Lesbian Teacher Offers Hope Through Vulnerability