Hundreds of teachers in 36 parochial schools in the state
are being presented an expanded Teacher Employment Agreement. The teachers work
in schools that fall under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in
"We want to tell them what the gospel asks of us,
and what we ask of the teacher that ministers," Hawaii Catholic Schools
superintendent Michael Rockers said.
Section 3.3 of the contract spells out the grounds for
terminating a teacher the church believes is living immorally. The areas
include adultery, homosexual activity, same sex unions, procuring, abetting or
promoting abortion, euthanasia or in vitro fertilization and unmarried
Bill Hoshijo, the executive director of the Hawaii Civil
Rights Commission said that section of the contract may violate teachers
rights. "The language that's used may run afoul of our state law of
protections against discrimination based on marital status and sexual
orientation," he said.
Hoshijo said he
wouldn't be surprised if teachers who teach only secular subjects like
reading and math in those Catholic schools challenge the contract's conduct
code. "In positions that don't require religious training, that don't
teach religious curriculum, I think we'd look at those factors in deciding
whether a ministerial exemption applies," he said.
Rockers said the teachers are role models whose job is
also a ministry. "I think federal and state laws support our right and
really our responsibility as a religious entity to hire and educate and support
teachers that further our mission," he said.
There are more than 800 teachers in Catholic schools who
are being presented details on the contract by their principals and pastors.
The contract doesn't affect teachers at private Catholic
schools like Damien, St. Louis School, Maryknoll and Sacred Hearts Academy.