SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego-area teacher says she is losing her job for being the victim of domestic violence.
The attorney for Holy Trinity School teacher Carie Charlesworth told The Associated Press on Thursday that she had received a letter notifying her that her 14-year contract would not be renewed because her ex-husband's violent history posed a risk to the school.
The case was first reported by KNSD-TV San Diego (http://bit.ly/11BJZP8 ).
Attorney Kenneth Hoyt said the second-grade teacher was put on paid leave after she told the principal about her ex-husband's behavior and Martin Charlesworth appeared in the parking lot in January, prompting the Catholic school to go on lockdown. She was also told she would have to remove her four children from the school.
Charlesworth was notified in April her pay would cease in August in a letter from Tom Beecher, director of the Office of Schools for the Diocese of San Diego. She decided to go public with her problem after hiring Hoyt, who has notified school officials that he may file a lawsuit.
In the April letter, Beecher stated that what officials learned of her ex-husband's behavior was "sobering," pointing out that he has a 20-year history of domestic violence with various women and has ignored 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," Beecher wrote. "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."
Martin Charlesworth is currently jailed. He could be released in the fall, which Beecher states in the letter factored into their decision to not renew her contract.
"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 wrote.
Chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia defended the decision.
"The diocesan office for schools acted responsibly in addressing the Holy Trinity School personnel matter with concern for the safety and well-being of both Cari Charlesworth and the children enrolled at the school," he said.
Hoyt disagreed, saying he understands the concern for school safety with recent mass shootings like last week's spree at a college in Santa Monica and the attack on the elementary school in Newton, Conn.
But he said punishing the victim is not the way to protect the school.
"It's already difficult to get women to report domestic violence. This is not what we need as a society. It's very disappointing," he said.
He said he would argue that school officials breached the implied terms of her contract.
"Most people see this as a termination after she worked 14 years," he said.