Catholic schools teachers contract scrutinized

Catholic schools teachers contract scrutinized
Published: Mar. 28, 2014 at 9:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - 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 Hawaii.

"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 cohabitation.

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.

Click to read the contract:

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