Firing a pregnant employee

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Firing a pregnant employee

In summary, a teacher was fired because she was unmarried and pregnant. She is suing. However, the private school does have a morality clause in it's contract, so she may be out of luck.

What do you think? Wrongful dismissal or fair considering her contract?

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/former-coach-fired-christian-school-wedlock-pregnancy-145601399.html

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This would have flown at my "Christian" high school. Pregnant students were kicked out as well. And a coach was fired for being a lesbian. All legal due to their contract that they signed upon accepting employment. To me it says a lot more about "Christianity" than it does the law Smile

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Fair considering her contract. I know in public schools it doesn't make sense to teach that abstinence is the answer, but in a Christian one it's really the only choice to teach. It's like the obese doctor debate. I think it sucks especially since the people who fired her probably do more than their fair share of sinning, but hers is visible and is going to raise questions with the students. If it's like the private schools here, they also have all ages in or near the same building from pre-school to seniors. So even if she's teaching kids who don't know better, she's still a role model (in this setup) for other students.

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I guess it's going to depend on what this morality clause in her contract actually says, and its interpretation. If its terms break the law, I think it's invalid and she has the right to sue. Doesn't matter what she signed. The school can't force her into something that's not binding based on the fact its illegal. This will be interesting to see what unfolds. If the clause is legal, I think she might be hooped.

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My kids go to a Christian school and I know the teachers are required to sign some sort of moral or lifestyle contract. As a parent, I appreciate that. I expect that the teachers at a Christian school are going to be living according to Christian principles.

That said, if she was apologetic and admitted her actions were wrong, then I would hope that they would forgive her and let her remain on staff.

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"kris_w" wrote:

That said, if she was apologetic and admitted her actions were wrong, then I would hope that they would forgive her and let her remain on staff.

This is kind of where my mind was headed. Isn't it the Christian belief that no one is without sin, but that all are forgiven through Christ? It seems kind of contrary to Christian doctrine to push someone away for sinning.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

This is kind of where my mind was headed. Isn't it the Christian belief that no one is without sin, but that all are forgiven through Christ? It seems kind of contrary to Christian doctrine to push someone away for sinning.

But, she would have to be sorry about it and consider it a sin. As for being a role model, I don't think there could be a better or more genuine example for students than to say "I did this, I shouldn't have, and I'm sorry" and then for the school to extend grace and forgive her.

The same sort of thing happened in my kids school once. Except the teacher just resigned. She knew she had breached the contract. She went on to live with a boyfriend and have a couple more kids... I supposed she wasn't willing to change her actions to be inline with the schools values... which is fine, just don't complain about it.

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"kris_w" wrote:

My kids go to a Christian school and I know the teachers are required to sign some sort of moral or lifestyle contract. As a parent, I appreciate that. I expect that the teachers at a Christian school are going to be living according to Christian principles.

That said, if she was apologetic and admitted her actions were wrong, then I would hope that they would forgive her and let her remain on staff.

I agree with this. She signed a clause, she knew the rules. I think it's fair considering the school and contract.

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Of course it's in Texas.

Yeah, there is a morality clause in most ed codes throughout the country. I don't think she's going to win this one. She's not being fired for being pregnant per se; she's being fired for violating the morality portion.

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Just because a sin is forgiven doesn't mean you still don't have to face the consequences of that sin.

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In some states, an employment contract can't violate state or federal law so morality clauses are therefore limited to things like being convicted of a crime or being charged with certain specific violent crimes, so maybe she signed the contract knowing that it couldn't legally be enforced. Or, unless the morality clause listed specifically-prohibited activities, maybe she's hoping a judge might find this interpretation of "Christian role model" to be too broad, especially at a Christian school that should frown on abortion at least as much as premarital sex. Or perhaps this is a way to let other schools know that she's available without violating a non-competition clause in her contract?

And the Catholic high school that I attended, there was a girl who got pregnant her senior year and they didn't kick her out because it would have been an un-Christian thing to do.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Just because a sin is forgiven doesn't mean you still don't have to face the consequences of that sin.

Yes, this was very much the attitude of my "Christian" school. The judging was left to them, regardless of repentance, and there was no "forgiveness" ~ you were just out of a job and pregnant, or out of school and pregnant, or out of work because of your long term relationship with a member of the same sex. *Poof*, gone.

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"kris_w" wrote:

My kids go to a Christian school and I know the teachers are required to sign some sort of moral or lifestyle contract. As a parent, I appreciate that. I expect that the teachers at a Christian school are going to be living according to Christian principles.

This. My son went to a Christian school for his 1st grade year (sadly can't afford it anymore) and we not only had to sign saying that we were Christian and believed in the Bible's teachings and follow them, but we also had to get a pastoral recommend as well. I'm quite sure they hold their staff to the same accountability, if not higher. I agree with what they did, as it was a part of her contract and private schools are not under the same laws as public schools are, so I don't think she has a leg to stand on. It is the Christian way to forgive, but in an instance like this you have to think about the children of the school and what keeping her on staff would say to them. They're trying to teach one thing but by letting her stay would send the message to those children that it's OK to do what their teacher did, and for Christian parents that's not the message that they want their children to have.

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"Starryblue702" wrote:

This. My son went to a Christian school for his 1st grade year (sadly can't afford it anymore) and we not only had to sign saying that we were Christian and believed in the Bible's teachings and follow them, but we also had to get a pastoral recommend as well. I'm quite sure they hold their staff to the same accountability, if not higher. I agree with what they did, as it was a part of her contract and private schools are not under the same laws as public schools are, so I don't think she has a leg to stand on. It is the Christian way to forgive, but in an instance like this you have to think about the children of the school and what keeping her on staff would say to them. They're trying to teach one thing but by letting her stay would send the message to those children that it's OK to do what their teacher did, and for Christian parents that's not the message that they want their children to have.

Exactly, it would teach the children not to adhere to what Jesus himself said about judging not lest you be judged. It will teach the children that empathy and forgiveness are signs of weakness, and that *NOT* all sin is equal in the eyes of the Lord. Weird message, eh?

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To reference the overweight doctor thread, you would not go to a doctor who is overweight because they do not follow their own teachings, but you would send your child to a Christian school that teaches abstinence only that is taught by a teacher that is pg out of wedlock?

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

To reference the overweight doctor thread, you would not go to a doctor who is overweight because they do not follow their own teachings, but you would send your child to a Christian school that teaches abstinence only that is taught by a teacher that is pg out of wedlock?

Was that teacher the school abstinence teacher? I thought she was the volleyball coach and science teacher?

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I teach at a private christian school, and we too sign a morality clause. I have never seen any teachers fired because of the clause, but we all know it is there. When I signed it I knew what I was signing up for, that my life would be held to a higher standard. This woman did not have to work in a private school, she didnt have to sign the contract.

I also have to wonder if there were other reasons in her firing? My oldest DD goes to a private school that recently did not extend a contract to a teacher that was going through a divorce. If you hear the teacher talk about it she will say it is all because of her divorce, but I know there was a lot of issues with her bringing her personal issues into the classroom. She taught 3rd grade and would tell the kids things about her divorce all the time.

Private schools have got to be able to keep the ability to hire and fire at will. One of the reasons that they are able to succeed in teaching more is the ability to get rid of teachers that are not effective in the classroom.

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"mom3girls" wrote:

Private schools have got to be able to keep the ability to hire and fire at will. One of the reasons that they are able to succeed in teaching more is the ability to get rid of teachers that are not effective in the classroom.

You believe that pregnant teachers are ineffective? Interesting.

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"Potter75" wrote:

You believe that pregnant teachers are ineffective? Interesting.

Nope. But I feel very strongly that private schools need to have the ability to fire at will

eta: Where did I say pregnant teachers were ineffective?

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You said the reason private schools were superior was because of their ability to get rid of ineffective teachers. This is a case of a private school getting rid of a proven, awarded and effective teacher, solely because she is pregnant. SEems to me that makes the school worse off, not better.

ETA: I believe that private schools and public schools and anyone should be able to fire at will. That doesn't mean I think that firing an engaged pregnant teacher and yanking her health insurance is a christanly thing to do.

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I am speaking more in a general to hiring and firing at private schools.

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"mom3girls" wrote:

Private schools have got to be able to keep the ability to hire and fire at will. One of the reasons that they are able to succeed in teaching more is the ability to get rid of teachers that are not effective in the classroom.

If they want the ability to have 'effective' teachers in the classroom then the onus should be on the school to implement an equally effective screening/interview/hiring process for prospective teachers. That said, you can't screen out the human factor, no matter how impeccable someone's CV.

eta - Morality clauses are often put into place during divorce proceedings to prevent co-habitation with new partners outside of of marriage.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Was that teacher the school abstinence teacher? I thought she was the volleyball coach and science teacher?

In most of the Christian schools I am familiar with, morals are taught in every class, not just Bible class.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

In most of the Christian schools I am familiar with, morals are taught in every class, not just Bible class.

But do they teach ABSTINENCE in every class? Even Volleyball? Because that is what you were talking about. What a waste of educational time! I can't imagine learning about abstinence in science class, I would be so behind the public school kids.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

To reference the overweight doctor thread, you would not go to a doctor who is overweight because they do not follow their own teachings, but you would send your child to a Christian school that teaches abstinence only that is taught by a teacher that is pg out of wedlock?

Also, let me assure you that I would never send my children to a school that teaches abstinence only, OR that fires good teachers for reasons like this. No way. My kids education is way too important to me to have sub standard teachers in place because they fit some neat little moral box.

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You might not send your child to such a school, but others should have a right to send their child there if they so choose.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

You might not send your child to such a school, but others should have a right to send their child there if they so choose.

OF course they should, who on earth is arguing against that in this debate? Thats like a completely unrelated point so I don't get why you bother saying it? I'm just arguing that it is hateful and unchristianlike.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Exactly, it would teach the children not to adhere to what Jesus himself said about judging not lest you be judged. It will teach the children that empathy and forgiveness are signs of weakness, and that *NOT* all sin is equal in the eyes of the Lord. Weird message, eh?

Yes, he said "judge not lest you be judged" and he also said "go and sin no more". He gives grace and forgiveness, but true repentance will also be shown with a change in action.

In this case, in the teacher was sorry and admitted to breaching the contract then I think they should have given her a second chance. However, if she continued to live the lifestyle she was living and flagrantly disregarding the contract she had signed then I think the right decision was to let her go.

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"kris_w" wrote:

What do you think? Wrongful dismissal or fair considering her contract?

"Potter75" wrote:

OF course they should, who on earth is arguing against that in this debate? Thats like a completely unrelated point so I don't get why you bother saying it? I'm just arguing that it is hateful and unchristianlike.

I am saying they have the right to fire her.

Parents that send their kids to private Christian schools pay thousands of dollars a year in part so that the teachers who are with their children all day have the same morals that they do. It would be a poor business choice for the school to keep a teacher that did not fit in that standard.

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Melissa, are you ok with her blatantly disregarding her contract? I am not sure why anyone would have an issue with her being fired for breaking a contract that she signed.

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Melissa, are you ok with her blatantly disregarding her contract? I am not sure why anyone would have an issue with her being fired for breaking a contract that she signed.

Wait, you think that she deliberately got pregnant in order to flaunt her premarital sexual relations?

I was thinking more that it was probably an accident. A very unintended accident. Which she probably feels really, really sorry about. Especially now that she has not job and no health insurance and is pregnant.

From a legal perspective I have NO problem with them firing her. As stated before, I think that people should be able to fired for any reason. I do have a moral problem with it. Her sin might be bigger and more obvious as her belly grows, but no different from the sins that those admin or those students make on a daily basis. Given an opportunity to teach grace, they chose to teach law. I find that unchristian.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I am saying they have the right to fire her.

Parents that send their kids to private Christian schools pay thousands of dollars a year in part so that the teachers who are with their children all day have the same morals that they do. It would be a poor business choice for the school to keep a teacher that did not fit in that standard.

And no one on the entire thread has disagreed that they have the right to fire her, so I'm still unclear as to your point. I spend thousands of dollars a year to make sure my kids are exposed to lots of different morals, so as to not put them in a bubble of judgement and psuedo morality where everyone is forced to think the same. It's great. They actually get to think about what matters to them from a moral perspective, and what a kind or human thing to do in the face of someone elses humanity would be.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Wait, you think that she deliberately got pregnant in order to flaunt her premarital sexual relations?

I was thinking more that it was probably an accident. A very unintended accident. Which she probably feels really, really sorry about. Especially now that she has not job and no health insurance and is pregnant.

From a legal perspective I have NO problem with them firing her. As stated before, I think that people should be able to fired for any reason. I do have a moral problem with it. Her sin might be bigger and more obvious as her belly grows, but no different from the sins that those admin or those students make on a daily basis. Given an opportunity to teach grace, they chose to teach law. I find that unchristian.

I do not believe she got pregnant on purpose, but I do believe that expecting to stay in the classroom after breaking her contract is blatant disregard for her contract.

As a christian school they do have opportunities everyday to show grace, I hope that they do. But at what place do you draw a line? They could keep her, they could keep a person going through a very public divorce, they could keep someone that was convicted of a petty crime. But then the next person that breaks the morality clause could be someone that is not in a position that the school could keep, then what? What precedent have they legally set?
Morals aside, they are also a business and they have to follow the contract that they set. Why have a contract if you are not going to follow it?
I know that tomorrow if I chose to have a public affair I would have no grounds to sue for wrongful termination.

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"Claire'sMommy" wrote:

I guess it's going to depend on what this morality clause in her contract actually says, and its interpretation. If its terms break the law, I think it's invalid and she has the right to sue. Doesn't matter what she signed. The school can't force her into something that's not binding based on the fact its illegal. This will be interesting to see what unfolds. If the clause is legal, I think she might be hooped.

"Spacers" wrote:

In some states, an employment contract can't violate state or federal law so morality clauses are therefore limited to things like being convicted of a crime or being charged with certain specific violent crimes, so maybe she signed the contract knowing that it couldn't legally be enforced. Or, unless the morality clause listed specifically-prohibited activities, maybe she's hoping a judge might find this interpretation of "Christian role model" to be too broad, especially at a Christian school that should frown on abortion at least as much as premarital sex. Or perhaps this is a way to let other schools know that she's available without violating a non-competition clause in her contract?

"Potter75" wrote:

And no one on the entire thread has disagreed that they have the right to fire her, so I'm still unclear as to your point.

I-m so happy

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I-m so happy

I don't know what bunny ears mean. They both said that they didn't know the law, but she was probably screwed.

And Lisa, I didn't draw the same conclusion you did. She offered to get married immediately, didn't she. To me that shows she was trying to right her wrong. I guess comparing a criminal to a pregnant person shows me that we just won't see eye to eye on this one. I don't buy the slippery slope argument when it comes to firing a pregnant person and denying them medical benefits. I find it cruel. Just like I found it cruel when a friend of mine had an abortion rather than get kicked out of school during her senior year and lose scholarships. I find it anti life to put such steep measures in place under the guise of morality.

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Who was it that said to err is human, but to forgive is divine?

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"mom3girls" wrote:

I do not believe she got pregnant on purpose, but I do believe that expecting to stay in the classroom after breaking her contract is blatant disregard for her contract.

As a christian school they do have opportunities everyday to show grace, I hope that they do. But at what place do you draw a line? They could keep her, they could keep a person going through a very public divorce, they could keep someone that was convicted of a petty crime. But then the next person that breaks the morality clause could be someone that is not in a position that the school could keep, then what? What precedent have they legally set?
Morals aside, they are also a business and they have to follow the contract that they set. Why have a contract if you are not going to follow it?
I know that tomorrow if I chose to have a public affair I would have no grounds to sue for wrongful termination.

Again, I agree that legally they have a right to fire her. Sure.

But for the rest of it, it just seems so....naive, to even expect that any of the teachers (or parents, or students) in a Christian organization are going to be without sin, and that seeing that sin is going to hurt the kids. I mean, I assume they allow unwed mothers, divorcees, et cetera into Christian churches where the kids may see them, interact with them, et cetera. I would bet that every single person at that school has committed some sin, recently! Just like probably every single person at your church has probably committed some sin, recently.

I realize that I'm probably not the person to talk about this since I am openly non-religious, but the one thing that I do miss about not being religious is the part about not belonging to a community. I always thought that when you belong to a church or religious community, in some ways it's like belonging to a big extended family, and I do sometimes miss that. I figure that church families are a lot like normal families, in that no one is perfect and sometimes something scandalous happens, but you get over it and keep loving each other and moving forward and making the best of it (like celebrating the life of a new baby!) rather than kicking each other out.

If that's actually not what belonging to a religious group is like, then I guess it's good to know that I'm not missing much.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Again, I agree that legally they have a right to fire her. Sure.

But for the rest of it, it just seems so....naive, to even expect that any of the teachers (or parents, or students) in a Christian organization are going to be without sin, and that seeing that sin is going to hurt the kids. I mean, I assume they allow unwed mothers, divorcees, et cetera into Christian churches where the kids may see them, interact with them, et cetera. I would bet that every single person at that school has committed some sin, recently! Just like probably every single person at your church has probably committed some sin, recently.

Isn't that a little different from being a teacher who you expect to be a role model? What if it was a different sin, say a teacher was caught embezzling funds from a girl scout troop or something. Would you expect that teacher not to be fired?

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Isn't that a little different from being a teacher who you expect to be a role model? What if it was a different sin, say a teacher was caught embezzling funds from a girl scout troop or something. Would you expect that teacher not to be fired?

Its hard to compare doing something illegal/breaking the law to an engaged adult having consentual sex which resulted in an unintended pregnancy, to me. Teachers breaking the law would be fired at most any school.

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At any place of employment there is a code of conduct. Some have a dress code where you have to wear a tie daily. Most say you have to show up to work on time every day, or not showing up to work drunk. Many times you can break that code of conduct and get away with it because no one knows. Other times it is more obvious and you get caught. At a school where it is against the code of conduct to have sex outside of marriage it is reasonable for a woman to get let go for getting pg out of wedlock. (with the obvious exception of rape)

A Christian school employee is different than a church member. One is a paid staff who is expected to abide by the school's rules. A church member is not.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

At any place of employment there is a code of conduct. Some have a dress code where you have to wear a tie daily. Most say you have to show up to work on time every day, or not showing up to work drunk. Many times you can break that code of conduct and get away with it because no one knows. Other times it is more obvious and you get caught. At a school where it is against the code of conduct to have sex outside of marriage it is reasonable for a woman to get let go for getting pg out of wedlock. (with the obvious exception of rape)

A Christian school employee is different than a church member. One is a paid staff who is expected to abide by the school's rules. A church member is not.

Do you think that doesn't happen with morality clauses? Of course it does. This unfortunate woman just broke it in a way that would be self-evident to all her coworkers. I doubt that the huge majority of those who have broken morality clauses have fessed up to their employers if there was zero chance of anyone ever finding out.

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"Potter75" wrote:

Its hard to compare doing something illegal/breaking the law to an engaged adult having consentual sex which resulted in an unintended pregnancy, to me. Teachers breaking the law would be fired at most any school.

Well if a sin is a sin shouldn't they just be forgiven instead of fired?

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I still say that it was a very un-Christian thing for this school to fire this young pregnant woman, leaving her with no income and no health insurance, and especially when it's very unlikely that she'll be able to find another job coaching volleyball right away since she's now more heavily pregnant. The much better option, all around, would have been to not renew her contract. The school wouldn't look like a heartless bunch of A-holes, as they currently do, and it would still not "reward" the teacher for her behavior but it wouldn't put her & her baby at the risk they are now with her being unemployed & uninsured.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Well if a sin is a sin shouldn't they just be forgiven instead of fired?

The law doesn't forgive people who break it Gloria, they get punished. Teachers are not allowed certification if they have felonies on their record, at least here they aren't. I don't get how you can compare the two. It would be wrong to ask the school to illegally hire a teacher without a teaching certificate because they broke the law, wouldn't it?

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"Potter75" wrote:

The law doesn't forgive people who break it Gloria, they get punished. Teachers are not allowed certification if they have felonies on their record, at least here they aren't. I don't get how you can compare the two. It would be wrong to ask the school to illegally hire a teacher without a teaching certificate because they broke the law, wouldn't it?

Exactly. Sin is sin, it can all be forgiven. But you still have to face the consequences. Some sins have greater consequences than others. In this case the consequence is that she lost her job. It's not the school's fault it is because of the choices she made.

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

A Christian school employee is different than a church member. One is a paid staff who is expected to abide by the school's rules. A church member is not.

Why though, if it's the same sin? If the attitude is that women who get pregnant outside of wedlock are sinners who should be kept away from children, why would it matter if they are in the school or in the church?

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Exactly. Sin is sin, it can all be forgiven. But you still have to face the consequences. Some sins have greater consequences than others. In this case the consequence is that she lost her job. It's not the school's fault it is because of the choices she made.

No ~ the wages of all sin is death. Same consequence.

Breaking different laws have different consequences.

Either way, I support the right of the school to be hateful and judgmental, so I don't get what you are arguing with me over.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Why though, if it's the same sin? If the attitude is that women who get pregnant outside of wedlock are sinners who should be kept away from children, why would it matter if they are in the school or in the church?

So you don't think teachers who are role models should be held to a higher standard of behavior than the general population?

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Why though, if it's the same sin? If the attitude is that women who get pregnant outside of wedlock are sinners who should be kept away from children, why would it matter if they are in the school or in the church?

Sadly, this is why many christians homeschool and go to ultra conservative churches who preach things like "courting" and quiverfull. It really helps with the brainwashing if they never have the opportunity to see that "sinners" are real people, just like you or me or them, who make mistakes and receive grace. This way, in the bubble, "sinners" can just be this vague scary thing that no one has to see. They are just quietly banished.

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So you don't think teachers who are role models should be held to a higher standard of behavior than the general population?

Any teacher, or just teachers at christian schools? Are you saying that christian teachers are somehow beyond reproach and are better role models than public or non-christian teachers? This air of the 'general population' and 'higher standards' just reeks of some kind of @#$%ed up religious elitism to me.

Interesting:

[h=2]Morality and Teaching[/h]

  • The difficult issue with morality is that the trends of morality change regularly and are different from group to group, as in what may be immoral for some may not be immoral for others. Generally speaking, if a teacher is to be terminated for immorality, it must be proven that the immoral act is job related. The case of Bates v. Noble Local Bd. of Educ. ruled that a teacher's private acts are his own business and cannot be the basis for contract termination. However, felony charges such as those resulting in illegal drug use, grand theft, kidnapping or sexual assault are grounds for termination under the subject of immoral behavior.

Read more: The Moral & Legal Obligations of Teachers | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_8307333_moral-legal-obligations-teachers.html#ixzz1rwzcuzUx

http://www.ehow.com/info_8307333_moral-legal-obligations-teachers.html

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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

So you don't think teachers who are role models should be held to a higher standard of behavior than the general population?

I would say where it is job related, sure. I'm just not so sure that the (completely legal) mistakes that this young woman made in her personal life are particularly egregious simply because she's a teacher.

Bottom line, again, I think the school is within it's rights. Religion aside, I just think that firing a woman for getting pregnant outside of wedlock is not the way that kind, caring, compassionate humans treat their fellow humans.

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