COLUMBUS, Ohio - Carla Hale, the 19-year teacher at Columbus Bishop Watterson High School who was fired after her mother's obituary stated that she was "survived by Carla and her partner," received word this week that the phony Catholic teachers "union" to which she has paid two decades worth of dues will not support her in her fight to be reinstated. In a public statement, the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators stated through spokesperson Kathleen Mahoney they would not appeal her case to arbitration.
This will not affect her ongoing fight to reverse her firing at the hands of the Central Ohio Catholic Diocese, said Tom Tootle, the attorney representing Hale. According to Tootle, "COACE has never in its history appealed any grievance for any of its members to arbitration."
It was learned through confidential sources that a number of teachers, members of COACE at Bishop Watterson High School, had initiated a petition to decertify that group as representing the teachers at that school.
The AFL-CIO Central Labor Council for Central Ohio, meanwhile, unanimously passed a strongly worded resolution this past week supporting Hale in her fight to be reinstated. The AFL-CIO is made up of actual independent unions in the central Ohio area.
Also this past week, the first hearing was held with the Columbus Human Rights Commission on Hale's case. Columbus has a strong human rights measure that includes specific wording outlawing discrimination in housing or employment because of sexual orientation. Conviction under the HRC legislation could result in jail time and up to $10,000 in fines. Tootle said that a first meeting was held with Nelson Hewitt of the HRC.
"We came away very encouraged," said Tootle.
A fund has now been set up to raise money needed for her legal case. The grassroots committee, mainly composed of Hale's students, parents of students, alumni, and former teachers at Watterson High School, is planning a series of fund raising projects, parties and other activities. T-shirts supporting Ms. Hale were being hawked at a recent rally.
More than 100 protestors rallied May 18 at the Catholic Diocese here, calling on the diocese to "Do what Jesus would do," according to organizer Amanda Finelli.
"Morality is not a list of restrictions, doctrines and rituals. That is not what Jesus said," Finelli said. "We learned that we should treat others with dignity and respect. Jesus never would've fired Carla!"
Speaking for the AFL-CIO, Glen Skeen, an officer at the Communications Workers of America and president of Pride@Work Ohio, told the crowd that he is "a member of a real union, one that actually stands up and represents its members."
"We are here supporting Carla, not because we know her, like so many of you, but because nobody, whether we know them or not, should ever have to live in fear because their boss, whether it's a church or a company, can fire them for what they do in their personal lives," Skeen said.
"We are union, and we say that everyone should have rights on the job, everyone should have democratic rights & no one should ever have to face what Carla has."
Frank Wilson, a recently retired Watterson teacher, said that he knew Carla and served on committees with her, and greatly respected her for her work.
"She never quizzed me about my personal life and I never did about hers," he said. "Carla Hale is one of the best, most respected teachers I've ever known, and the decision to fire her was absolutely the worst administrative decision ever!"
Photo: Carla Hale ("I Support Carla Hale" Facebook page)