A second-grade teacher who reported to her school that she was the victim of domestic abuse has been notified that her contract would not be renewed.
Carolyn “Carie” Charlesworth, a teacher for 14 years at schools within the Diocese of San Diego, was terminated from her position at Holy Trinity School in El Cajon.
The incident that triggered her firing came Jan. 28 when her then-husband, Martin Charlesworth, showed up on school grounds despite a 2011 restraining order, which forced the school into lockdown mode.
She was put on paid leave a few days later and was informed in April by a letter from the Diocese that she would not return and could not transfer to another school within the system.
Charlesworth, 39, decided this week to go public with her story, which was first reported by KNSD-TV. She said she has hired an attorney and is considering legal action.
In the letter, officials said the decision was made for the “safety of the students.”
In an interview with U-T San Diego, Charlesworth said on the day her husband showed up on campus she had confided to Holy Trinity Principal Francie Wright that she feared her husband because of a pattern of abusive and unpredictable behavior. She said for several years she had been the victim of verbal and emotional abuse with frequent threats of harm and intimidation. On the day she told Wright of her concern that Martin Charlesworth might show up, he was spotted in his vehicle by a church hall manager, parked in a back lot at the school.
Her four children, ages 7 through 11, all of whom were attending Holy Trinity School, were also put on what Wright called an “indefinite leave of absence.” They have been attending schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District since February.
The termination letter reads in part: “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.”
Beecher and Espinosa said Martin Charlesworth had a history of more than 20 years of violence, abuse and harassment with “mostly women,” and that he has ignored previous restraining orders in California and Alaska.
“We feel deeply for you and about the situation in which you and your children find yourselves through no fault of your own,” the letter states. “It serves no purpose to go through your husband’s legal history, except to say that his threatening and menacing behavior has not changed but has actually increased over the past 20-plus years.”
Well, I would also be concerned about the safety of the students. In fact, it is clear from this that no one is safe in either a school or church or parish hall in the diocese since the Diocese of San Diego is choosing to be reactive rather than proactive with this situation. What is next, asking the woman and her children to attend Mass elsewhere? After all, a church, unlike a school, is not secure with locked doors.
The discussion this morning on the radio program had several people, including the host, talking about how Bishop Flores had to do this to "bet against the odds" since this was a known threat. It seems to me that the Diocese is not unlike an ostrich with their head in the sand. This was a known threat because this stemmed from a domestic abuse case - indeed, notwithstanding the "history of more than 20 years of violence," they still hired her. I can understand a church or school taking precautions, and those are unlikely to be stringent against the random act that - despite the media hoopla - happens infrequently.
|Bishop Cirilo Flores of San Diego|
You know, the situation in Utah at St. James the Just occurred because of domestic violence. It could have been much worse. One of the reasons why it was not was because the church knew there was a potential threat - and was ready for it.