The Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators will not back Carla Hale in her fight to return to her old job as a teacher at Bishop Watterson High School.
Hale, who was fired in March after an anonymous letter-writer informed Diocese of Columbus officials that she is in a same-sex relationship, made the announcement Monday, May 13, accompanied by attorney Thomas Tootle, outside the downtown offices of the Ohio Education Association.
The Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators is the professional association that represents teachers in the diocese.
Hale said her next step would be to appeal her firing to the superintendent of Bishop Watterson, Cia McQuade.
Tootle said if his client is not reinstated by McQuade, the next step would be to seek arbitration. He said that can be costly and took advantage of the gathered members of the news media to announce that a website had been launched to raise funds to assist Hale in seeing a return to the physical education position she’d held for 19 years.
That website is carlahalefund.com.
Hale’s relationship with her partner came to the attention of the anonymous letter-writer after it was mentioned in the obituary for Jeanne E. Roe, the teacher’s mother.
Awareness of that relationship within the diocese led to Hale being dismissed, apparently under a morals clause in the association’s contract.
“My decision to acknowledge a loved one in my mother’s obituary was not immoral,” Hale said in reading from a prepared statement. “I am not immoral. 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 from all those who have made my cause their concern. The steps ahead are not easy. I cannot express in words the strength I’ve drawn from the many, many who have offered support.”
In a letter signed by Kathleen Maloney, president of the COACE grievance committee, copies of which were handed out at the May 13 press briefing, Hale was informed “of the decision ... not to carry forward the grievance Ms. Carla Hale has filed to challenge termination of her employment as a diocesan teacher.”
Tootle said the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators has never once gone to arbitration on behalf of a member, which he said calls into question the effectiveness of the organization.
He said he and his client met with Nelson Hewitt of the city’s Community Relations Committee for two hours last week. Hale has filed a complaint with the commission regarding her firing.
Hewitt indicated to the attorney and his client that he would provide officials at Bishop Watterson and with the Diocese of Columbus three weeks to provide their side of the situation.
During the press event, Hale was asked if she would still have used her partner’s name in the obituary, knowing that it would lead to her losing her job.
She said she definitely would have.