Parent Files Police Report After Addressing Fired Teacher At Mee - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Parent Files Police Report After Addressing Fired Teacher At Meeting

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A Bishop Watterson High School parent filed a police report after he said he was forcibly removed from a meeting during which he addressed the firing of a gay teacher.

Carla Hale was fired from Bishop Watterson High School after her partner's name appeared in her mother's obituary.

NBC4 learned that there was trouble at the Bishop Annual Appeal dinner Sunday night, when a father of a student and supporter of the school tried to approach the Bishop.

John Petrucci said he wanted to give the Bishop a letter he had written in support of the high school, its students and staff. He said he wanted to ask the Bishop to be the one out front on the issue instead of the school.

Petrucci said he filed a police report with Upper Arlington police after, he said, he was forcefully removed from the appeal.

The Diocese released the following response regarding the incident:

"During last evening's dinner for diocesan 'Bishop Annual Appeal' contributors, an attendee, immediately prior to Bishop Campbell's address, abruptly stood and began speaking regarding Carla Hale in a manner that was not understood or heard by many in attendance. While speaking, he began moving toward the Bishop in a way that concerned many in the audience.  Several attendees thought it necessary to intervene on the Bishop's behalf, asked the man to leave, and escorted him from the event.  No extraordinary force was either required or applied in this process.

"Bishop Campbell is aware of the passions that have surrounded the Carla Hale issue and is deeply concerned about the anxiety and alarm it has created within our community.  He encourages all on either side of this subject to maintain civility and calm while the grievance process in this case moves forward."

Hale, who had taught at the school for 19 years, said she had taken her older brother's advice to include her partner's name while writing her mother's obituary about an hour after she had died.

A week later, the Bishop Watterson gym teacher and coach says she was called to the principal's office where she saw the anonymous letter a parent had sent to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus. The letter stated how appalled the parent was seeing a woman's name in the obituary next to Hale's.

According to Hale's attorney, a student at the school had asked her mother to pray for Hale because she had recently lost her mother. The student's mother then noticed the obituary, and wrote an anonymous letter to the Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Hale was later fired a week and a half later, on Holy Thursday, March 28.

Hale's attorney, Tom Tootle said they will file a complaint with Columbus' community relations committee, which investigates cases of discrimination that violate the city's civil rights code.

In Columbus, there is a municipal ordinance that protects people from being fired for their sexual orientation, and there are no exceptions in that ordinance for religious institutions. The Columbus Civil Rights Code was enacted in 1991 and included sexual orientation as a protected class.

Once the investigation is complete, it moves to the full commission. If there is probable cause, a hearing is called.

The entire process could take four to six months, but could end if Hale and the Diocese agree to mediation.

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