• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

WWJD?

Via The Lookout:  Teacher fired over ex-husband’s ‘threatening and menacing’ behavior

An elementary school teacher fired by a private San Diego-area school following a domestic violence incident involving her ex-husband is speaking out about her ordeal.

Carie Charlesworth, who taught second grade at Holy Trinity School in El Cajon, Calif., told the San Diego NBC affiliate that the incident with her ex-husband occurred back in January.

[...]

The following morning, Charlesworth said, she informed the school of the incident and told the principal to be on the lookout for her ex-husband. When he was spotted in the parking lot, the school went into lockdown.

Charlesworth was then put on indefinite leave and her children were removed from the school.  And then:

Her ex-husband was subsequently sent to prison, but in April, the school fired her anyway.

The Diocese of San Diego wrote in a letter to Charlesworth that it was concerned about her ex-husband’s "threatening and menacing behavior."

The letter noted, "We feel deeply for you and about the situation in which you and your children find yourselves through no fault of your own. Although we understand he is currently incarcerated, we have no way of knowing how long or short a time he will actually serve and we understand from court files that he may be released as early as next fall. In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work there, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese."

It makes one wonder if those in the Diocese are familiar with James 1:27:  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

At a minimum, it does come across as punishing the victims.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    James 1:27 notwithstanding, they have a business to run and children to indoctrinate. No parents are going to send their kid into a potentially dangerous situation.

    There are probably some reasonable accommodations available to the diocese, but even if the church elders come to an agreement, the parents are not part of a group that will see shades of grey – their world is very black and white.

    It’s a stinky bouillabaisse and they’re swimming deep in it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Mikey says:

    This sucks, but can you really blame the school? You know they’re acting based on the worst-case scenario: whacko ex-husband shows up at school armed to the teeth and kills a bunch of teachers and kids.

    Is it over-reacting? Probably, but nobody wants to risk getting blamed, even if it’s highly unlikely to actually happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  3. @Mikey: Funny: but your post works as a basic description of our current security climate in the country (at least as it relates to the surveillance debate).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. @Tony W: I actually do understand what you are saying. It does, however, honestly strike me that if Christian organizations cannot live by their own values, then what does that say about those values (or, at least, about the organizations who purport to exist to spread them)?

    And I am honestly not asking that in a snarky or flippant way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. Tony W says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I agree, and this is my basic problem with organized religion. They are a business first and foremost. Their job is to bring in customers and keep the lights on. It feels like the principles form around that first imperative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. mattbernius says:

    @Mikey:

    This sucks, but can you really blame the school? You know they’re acting based on the worst-case scenario: whacko ex-husband shows up at school armed to the teeth and kills a bunch of teachers and kids.

    The question becomes, what school dare take that risk? Extend this a little bit and couldn’t a public school deny these kids over the same worries?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. JKB says:

    Wait a minute, many here in the comments on this site have promoted the great benefits of requiring insurance. The school carries insurance and may be required to do so by law. The insurance company sure isn’t going to permit a foreseeable threat to remain thus increasing the risk of loss.

    The simplest way to mitigate that risk is to remove the reason for the threat. It is how insurance rolls.

    Others here have lamented why schools don’t do more about security. The most effective security measures is to remove the attractant, in this case the woman with the threatening husband. Would you prefer the school arm up? Perhaps put a few guns on teachers’ hips?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  8. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It does, however, honestly strike me that if Christian organizations cannot live by their own values, then what does that say about those values (or, at least, about the organizations who purport to exist to spread them)?

    That a value is unobtainable by most is no reason not to aspire to them.

    Doesn’t your beloved socialism not put the needs of the collective over the needs of the individual? Or is that only when they desire someone else’s property and wealth?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  9. @Steven L. Taylor:

    if Christian organizations cannot live by their own values, then what does that say about those values

    Values you display only when you suffer little or no personal cost in doing so are not actually your values. It’s the things you do when it is painful and expensive that show your true beliefs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  10. @JKB:

    Doesn’t your beloved socialism

    An amusing response.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  11. @mattbernius:

    The question becomes, what school dare take that risk? Extend this a little bit and couldn’t a public school deny these kids over the same worries?

    Indeed.

    And how many children (and teachers) across the land fall into this category?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. @Stormy Dragon:

    Values you display only when you suffer little or no personal cost in doing so are not actually your values. It’s the things you do when it is painful and expensive that show your true beliefs.

    Exactly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. (This is why I titled the post WWJD?–because while that may sound flippant, it was what came to mind when I read the story. And it seems to me that it is a wholly reasonable question to ask of a Catholic school).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  14. @JKB:

    Values you display only when you suffer little or no personal cost in doing so are not actually your values. It’s the things you do when it is painful and expensive that show your true beliefs.

    Where is the aspiration here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. john personna says:

    This would not be an issue if the Diocese had followed through and found her a position elsewhere.

    Moving her from the children was not actually wrong. Firing her, doing it at her cost, was.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. John H says:

    @JKB:

    I can’t see that anyone here argued against the logic of removing the teacher as a trigger for potential violence. At most the question seems to be why the diocese didn’t apply their principles and seek a resolution that wouldn’t kick her to the curb in favor of their legitimate interests.

    A larger issue here is that this could be applied to just about anyone. If being a potential target for violence is enough to get one canned, then we’d all better start living lives without conflict.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. PD Shaw says:

    Employers do not always give the real reason for firing, though the letter doesn’t give much reason to doubt the centrality of the husband and his past history of erratic violence. But motivating the school is no doubt the fact that she has been unable to teach since January and is likely to be unable to teach in the Fall and indefinitely thereafter, all while drawing a salary. Instead of offering condescending religious recriminations, why doesn’t Prof. Taylor, who professes to be a Christian, pass the hat?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  18. JKB says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Where is the aspiration here?

    This just in, not every Christian makes the cut to being a saint.

    But the post doesn’t say the church abandoned her, only that her employment was terminated due to the real threat her presence represented to the children who are customers of the school. Her employment, which creates a responsibility upon the employer for her actions and those actions that occur due to her being on the site that the employer has or should have reasonable knowledge of occurring.

    It’s crappy law but very old law. Long ago a ship operator was held responsible for the injuries caused by an employee to another because they were deemed to have known the individual had a, I forget the correct words, but basically he was surly and prone to exhibit his displeasure physically.

    Now the church could offer assistance to this woman as an individual, away from the students they are responsible for ensuring a safe environment for, without creating a liability risk should her husband prove dangerous.

    Don’t blame me, blame the lawyers and politicians who created the potential of severe liability when an employee’s mere presence creates a reasonable, knowable danger to others should a personal threat materialize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  19. Tony W says:

    @PD Shaw:

    she has been unable to teach since January and is likely to be unable to teach in the Fall and indefinitely thereafter, all while drawing a salary.

    This arrangement seems fine with the Diocese with respect to pedophile priests. Why not teachers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  20. mantis says:

    CINOs

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. mantis says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Instead of offering condescending religious recriminations, why doesn’t Prof. Taylor, who professes to be a Christian, pass the hat?

    Indeed, Stephen. It’s not the church’s fault for firing her, it’s your fault for not paying to compensate her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. @mantis: So it would seem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. @PD Shaw:

    But motivating the school is no doubt the fact that she has been unable to teach since January and is likely to be unable to teach in the Fall and indefinitely thereafter, all while drawing a salary.

    Perhaps I am misreading the piece, but I am operating under the understanding that she was paid for the rest of the academic year and then fired (i.e., no long drawing a salary).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. PD Shaw says:

    @john personna: “This would not be an issue if the Diocese had followed through and found her a position elsewhere.”

    That might have been ideal, but can we be sure that this religious school has positions away from children, or that they would be satisfactory to the lady in the piece who says she is anguished about not being able to care for the children? It actually might be worse than it appears. In some states the school may need to inform potential future employers of their concerns about child safety that led to her firing. With the added publicity, she may not be able to work with children again, at least until her ex-husband is put away for a long time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  25. @PD Shaw:

    Instead of offering condescending religious recriminations

    BTW, while I can understand why you say that, my position is not so much condescending as it is an honest question about the relationship between institutions (and individuals) who profess a particular set of values and yet do not seem to practice them when push comes to shove.

    This seems like a fair line of inquiry, yes? If one can’t raise these questions of a church based institution, what’s the point of the values in question at all?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  26. @PD Shaw:

    With the added publicity, she may not be able to work with children again, at least until her ex-husband is put away for a long time.

    Even without the publicity, she may have already been in such a situation–which makes the situation all the more problematic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. PD Shaw says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: If they had not fired her, reading between the lines, the school was concerned that if they gave her a class in the Fall, and her ex-husband is released in the Fall, she would likely return to indefinite paid leave again. This is not a very conducive for establishing teacher assignments and continuity for the children.

    The obvious solution is that the ex-husband should be given at least ten years. He’s a dickhead bully with twenty years of acting out aggression against people he thinks are weaker than him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. @PD Shaw: The thing is, I am not sure that the leave was necessary in the first place, or would be needed in the future. Granted: there may well be facts that are not shared in the story that would suggest otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. PD Shaw says:

    @Tony W: The schools, the law and society are changing in expectations of what level of safety is expected of people whom are entrusted with children. Moving a suspected pedophile priest away from a position of primary responsibility for children isn’t enough if they still will have occasional contact with children. Its also very clear that the shock of what harm can come to children will lead most people to read the clues that foreshadowed the events in a very definitive light in retrospect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  30. Al says:

    Personally, I think it’s great of our Diocese. Between the Church’s handling of the sex abuse scandal and now this, my wife is never going to take us to church again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. Sam Malone says:

    Just another case of Christians not being Christian.
    Like Republicans are not Conservative.
    Nothing new.
    I’ve got to look at the Dog-Butt Jesus again….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Anderson says:

    And it seems to me that it is a wholly reasonable question to ask of a Catholic school)

    Nope. Try WWPD?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. PD Shaw says:

    PD would not be casting religious judgments unless PD wanted to be judged accordingly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Just "nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tony W: This. Alas…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Davebo says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Inane just doesn’t seem to say enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Franklin says:

    Sorry, I’m late to the discussion here so I apologize if I missed something, but it doesn’t appear that anyone has spotted the actual problem. It’s not with the school or the lady or socialists or religious people or whatever. The actual problem is our legal system – why would someone that is so dangerous that he causes school lockdowns ever going to be released from prison?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0