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Catholic School Fires Teacher Who Survived Domestic Abuse

Catholic School Fires Teacher Who Survived Domestic Abuse

Not only did Holy Trinity School in El Cajon, California fire second grade teacher Carie Charlesworth on account of her being a survivor of domestic abuse, the school also said that her four children, all students at the school, could no longer go to school there — in effect, “firing” all of them.

So much for Holy Trinity School teaching, as its webpage says, “values by example.” Somehow, firing someone who has been having such personal difficulties does not seem conducive to creating a “Christian atmosphere.”

Charlesworth had been a teacher at Holy Trinity School for 14 years. She was fired not for anything related to her performance in the classroom but because of the school’s fears that she could be a liability.

Last January, as Charlesworth tells KNSD about her ex-husband, “we’d had a very bad weekend with him, we’d called the sheriff’s department three times on Sunday with him.” The following morning, she told Francie Wright, the principal of Holy Trinity School, to be on the watch for her ex-husband. He showed up in the school’s parking lot and the administration put the school on lockdown.

Afterwards, Charlesworth and her children were “placed on an indefinite leave,” according to a letter sent by the principal. Then, in April, Charlesworth was told that the school was firing her, according to a letter from education officials in the Diocese of San Diego, Tom Beecher and Bobbie Espinosa. While saying that “we feel deeply for you and about the situation in which you and your children find yourselves in,” the officials write that

“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.”

As Charlesworth says to KNSD, her being terminated from her job and her children no longer being allowed to attend the school felt like a punishment “for something we didn’t even do.”

While Charlesworth is to receive her salary through August, there is no question that the school has made a difficult situation for her and her family even more challenging. “They’ve taken away my ability to care for my kids. It’s not like I can go out and find a teaching job anywhere,” says Charlesworth. Her ex-husband is currently incarcerated on felony charges and is to be released at the end of June.

A number of parents whose children attend Holy Trinity School say that they support the principal’s and the Diocese’s decision as it was made to “protect all of our kids, her kids included,” as parent Jennifer Grubbs says. But another parent, Theresa Ososkie, calls it “shameful” for Charlesworth to be fired especially as she had done the right thing: “She came to the principal, told her the situation. And I think in that regard, protected the children.”

Indeed: a 2011 study by Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center says that, in California, almost 40 percent of survivors of domestic violence reported being fired from their jobs or fearing termination.

Charlesworth — who has been offered a job in a different city – says that she is hopeful that talking about her story can draw attention to what survivors of domestic violence go through. As she says, “I mean that’s why women of domestic violence don’t come forward, because they’re afraid of the way people are going to see them, view them, perceive them, treat them.”

Please sign the petition to tell Holy Trinity School to rehire Charlesworth. She should be supported, and certainly not penalized, for going out of her way to speak out about domestic violence.

 

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199 comments

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2:54AM PDT on May 19, 2014

While I hold no brief for the Catholic church (I've been an 'ex' RC for many many years) AND I've been a victim of domestic abuse, I do think this is an issue that has been blown out of all proportion.
If I had a child at that school I would commend the head for taking a very difficult decision - to keep MY child and her friends safe.

To those who appear to have only half-read the article, Mrs Charlesworth was suspended on full pay - so she had ample opportunity to care for her children and to find them a safe place to live, away from her abusive husband.
Moreover, she has been offered employment in another school, far away from him.
How is that not 'caring'?

(Mind you, bearing in mind that Ms Chew wrote the story, I'm not at all surprised at her stance. We've crossed swords before, re.her self-opinionated stance on situations she's never been in.)

2:15PM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

A natural reaction when two people are having a personal fight about which one doesn't know the many details is to ask them to take their fight elsewhere for the sake of everyone else. That is a natural reaction we see in many places.

I think also there is of late fear in schools because of various violent school events we have experienced around the nation in recent years (magnified through media/Internet), so people tend to think that the next round of shots might really be coming their way to their school if they aren't very vigilant and careful.

I do, however, think the head of the school missed an opportunity to be like Jesus in any of numerous ways. Taking a little risk (a little cross) sometimes can go a long way to help fellow brothers and sisters in need and bring about a little missing peace.

5:24PM PDT on Aug 2, 2013

religion again. Hypocrisy ?!? what?!?! i am in such shock (not)

4:17PM PDT on Jul 3, 2013

SIGNED & SHARED

8:24PM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

I've been thru d.v. and I'm "scared straight" from ever wanting to get married to anyone. I value what freedom I have and not goin down w/o a fight. He'll become a one eyed jack or be missin his nuts one day or both if that's what it comes down to. Some guys wait til they know your hooked on them. Every relationship is different . Eye candy and chocolate still work for me.

12:58PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

An added note in thought and respect for Carie Charlesworth,.. She is not alone in her walk regarding the ways of the Catholic Arch Dioceses. I came from a very wealthy and powerful Catholic family. Some 8 years ago, this same "family" did a very horrible and cinister act, as one of my mothers nieces conned my mother, setting her up to be kidnapped, and then put her into an Alzheimer facility where she actually FALSIFIED MY IDENTITY claiming to be my mother's ONLY DAUGHTER! The story is very long, detailed and convoluted. The neice's act got carried out for 7 years until she got caught at the mortuary attempting to claim my mother upon being her ONLY NEXT OF KIN last year!
When it came time to arrange my mothers memorial, the story came to the surface, and word spread through the Catholic church like wild fire. As it has turned out, the Catholic church will not welcome me through it's doors. WHY? Because My uncle (the brother to the father of the niece) was the Arch Bishop of the St. Paulist Guild of Washington D.C.-The Arch Dioceses doesn't want to risk a scandal.
Legacies might not last forever, but memories and karma will. God always has a perfect plan in the victory upon our lessons learned through courage and inner strength. I have faith that Carie will come out a Victor upon being a stand for other women and a role model for her children.

12:26PM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

I would in no way sign a petition to support Carie Charlesworth's returning to teach at the Holy Trinity school. First and foremost, for the Diocese to not Support the well being of Carie and her livelihood and that of her children is a form of abuse and disrespect, not to mention a very unloving and uncaring and Anti Christian way of thuinking.
Secondly, for Carie to have ANY DESIRE to return to that kind of environment shows that she is weak emotionally, and she will tolerate more abuse. The Catholic Arch Dioceses firing Carie Charlesworth contradicts EXACTLY what Christ went through! They are failing to allow her to have courage, faith, humility and inner strength.

I commend Carie for BEING A STAND TO COME FORWARD! In the face of explaining the situation to her small children, I think the best thing that can be said is that "Life 's circumstances come to an end through a learning experience that might close a door, but it also means that Life's journey leads us to a new and better opportunity waiting for us!
I hope Carie's passion leads her to something more meaningful, as it's obvious that her purpose and mission was done at Holy Trinity.

7:22AM PDT on Jun 25, 2013

I don't think it's a good idea to confuse Roman Catholicism with Christianity, first of all. The Catholic church does as it pleases, and has always been extremely self-serving. All that aside, they handled the situation in a way intended to protect them from liability. They already have enough strikes against them in the area of not protecting children. They also take the position that women should not leave their bad husbands, which puts them in a double bind. Really, I don't know what else they could have done, given the situation and what they don't stand for.

8:24AM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

I have worked in elementary schools (public & catholic) and understand being concerned about the children's safety. But that is a concern every day. There should already be policies and strategies in place for this type of situation. There are many parents who have their own custody issues the school must be aware of and take precautions for. You DON'T fire the victim and expel the children. That is ridiculous.

7:26AM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

There are two sides to a story. In this case the two sides have safety concerns. And that is priority on both sides. The school has a right to protect its faculty and staff. And Mrs. Charlesworth and her children like all citizens have the right to be protected. We do now know all the circumstances that transpired. However, would it have been better if the school authority gave Mrs. Charlesworth a leave of absence with pay to allow some time for her to search and be accepted at another school that will simultaneously admit her four children in the same facility? The husband's short incarceration does not help solve this problem. He has to have a longer time at a facility where his behavior can be modified, be taught how to respect himself and others, be guided towards morally upright thoughts and actions, be spiritually enlightened. My heart goes out to Mrs. Charleworth and her children for going through this difficult times. It is not only one person who is suffering but five...

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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