What Lesson is Archdiocese Teaching with New Catholic School Contract?
Some Cincinnatians are planning to gather outside the offices of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati today in support of a teacher who’s leaving the faculty of Purcell-Marian High School after 45 years.
The resignation of 66-year-old Richard Hague, and today’s rally, are in reaction to the wording of a new contract for Catholic school teachers.WNKU’s Cheri Lawson tells us more about another teacher who will not return in the fall.
Richard Miller is gay. He lives with his partner in Cincinnati where together they have six kids. And because of that he’s lost his job.
Richard is passionate about his family and enjoys when they all come together for meals a few times each week.
He also loves his job at Cincinnati’s St Rita School for the Deaf.
But next year, he won’t be back. That’s because a controversial new contract handed down by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati prohibits gay lifestyles for teachers in Catholic schools.
Before coming to St. Rita’s, Miller worked for the Hamilton County Educational Service Center for twenty years as an interpreter. He grew up on a farm In West Virginia and was excited to take a job teaching about nature and gardening.
The 52-year-old says, when he was hired, he told the director that he lived an openly gay lifestyle.
Miller: “I was assured at that time that what I did in my personal life was my business and I was being hired for my abilities and my capabilities as a teacher and he was very excited to have me on board. About three weeks ago, I was issued a letter by the very same director stating that my contract would not be renewed and when I was asked why my contract would not be renewed his response was, it was just too risky.”
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is requiring about 2800 teachers to accept the new contract. It includes a morality clause that prohibits specific behaviors and actions, including but not limited to, abortion, artificial insemination and "homosexual lifestyles."
Dan Andriacco is spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Andriacco: “Some teachers don’t really understand what was covered by the former moral conduct clause and that’s the reason we’ve made it more specific. Obviously we’ve had some litigation involving termination of teachers over the previous contract. We’re hoping this contract will make that less likely.”
Some teachers have had no problem signing the new contract.
Among them is Paul Kindt who teaches religion at Moeller High School. The 41-year-old says he loves his job and he’s so supportive he’d sign with a Sharpie.
Kindt: “It’s the same contract we’ve been signing for years. That this could have happened at any moment. We just need to be specific about certain things that other people have thrust into the spotlight in recent years and be clear about our teaching on that so no one is surprised by the teaching.”
His partner Robbin Hoopes, a dean at Cincinnati State College, has a 13-year-old deaf daughter who attends St Rita’s. Although not a Catholic, he says all four of his kids attend parochial schools.
Hoopes: “For my kids to go to schools, not just St Rita’s but all the schools and to hear the message that somebody who is openly gay, a gay teacher can no longer work here and they’re being fired. It sends a message to them that discrimination against gay people is the right thing to do, sanctioned by their school.”
St Rita’s Director Greg Ernst declined to comment on what he says are “personnel matters.” But school board member Suzy Dorward confirms that the school sent a letter to the Archdiocese asking for an extension on implementing the contract. That request, she says, was turned down.
An estimated 60% of teachers and students at St Rita’s are non-Catholic. Of the 100 people on staff, only the full-time teachers must sign the contract, not the teacher aides.
Officials of the 19-county Archdiocese estimate that of the 80% of teachers who've been offered contracts so far this spring most have signed. Superintendent Jim Rigg says he’s received nine letters of resignation from teachers who are choosing not to sign.
Here's a video of Elly Hoopes, 13-year-old daughter of Robbin Hoopes with her step father and interpreter Richard Miller. Video by Steven Du.