This page has been created by some concerned parents at Caloundra Christian Community Kindergarten as a result of the recent firing of one of our well loved kindergarten teachers. We believe that this decision is unfair, unjust and inappropriate in today’s world and we choose to voice our concerns and take whatever action we can to let the principal and the school authorities know that we do not approve. Ideally we hope the school will choose to reverse this decision and have the school policies which have resulted in this action changed for the future. This page is intended to be a place where people can show their support for Miss Jess and voice their concerns, share their actions and communicate openly about the issue. Please note that this page is not being run by Miss Jess. We respect her privacy and understand that she cannot be involved in such a forum for legal reasons. This page simply represents the people who want to show their support for her and want to communicate about the issues. We DO NOT want to create any extra problems by operating this page. We know that this issue is one that will raise lots of concern and that each person will have a different opinion – to which they are completely entitled. We invite your comments to be posted on this page but will not tolerate any abusive language or defamation. Any comments which are deemed to be abusive or inappropriate will be deleted and such users blocked from the page if necessary. If you would like further information or facts we recommend that you contact the school yourself or any of the principal parties involved.
Right. Now I understand, except that I still have no idea why Miss Jess was fired, or why I should care. Intrigued (and a little annoyed that I've been sucked in), I skimmed the comments on the Facebook page.
The short version: Miss Jess is a single Mum, teaching at a Christian/Baptist kindy. The Facebook page alleges that she was fired because her current pregnancy is considered at odds with the values of the Christian school.
Miss Jess isn't involved in the Facebook page; it's been set up by her sister Jamie, specifically to stir the community to action. As of about 8pm tonight, over 800 people had 'Liked' the Facebook page, and the story, with Miss Jess's full name, had been picked up and reported in Queensland media. If attention was the purpose of the Facebook campaign, it worked.
The school principal has confirmed the requirement that staff at the school exhibit the appropriate Christian values, as detailed in a Lifestyle Agreement each member of staff has to sign. He also denied that Miss Jess's termination was related to her pregnancy. The Brisbane Times reported
"It's not to do with the pregnancy, though she did contravene the lifestyle agreement," he said, contradicting what Miss Jess told her sister Jamie. When asked if he was saying he did not sack Jess for being pregnant and unmarried, Mr Hodges said he could not answer because of privacy concerns.
To confuse matters further, Melinda Saunders, one of the Mums with children attending the school, met with the school principal. When asked for an explanation for Miss Jess's sacking, the principal gave Ms Saunders a copy of the Lifestyle Agreement.
So, was Miss Jess sacked because she is pregnant? Was it because of some other breach of the Lifestyle Agreement? Or was Miss Jess's employment terminated for other reasons, unrelated to her lifestyle choices?
We don't know the full story.
The stress of being a single Mum would be bad enough; being an unemployed single Mum must be worse, and if Miss Jess was sacked because of her pregnancy, it's unthinkable.
But let's add the fun and excitement of being pursued by media. That's sure to lower her blood pressure. Then, there's the likelihood that Miss Jess will bring legal action against the school for wrongful termination. Relaxing, isn't it?
Australian Law does not permit employers to fire or discriminate in any way against pregnant women because they are pregnant. It is legal, however, to fire a pregnant woman for other reasons - unsatisfactory performance, misconduct or genuine redundancy.
Perhaps she was fired not because she is pregnant, but because her pregnancy is proof of sexual activity without benefit of wedlock, hence 'misconduct'. It could be that convoluted, although the Human Rights Commission might take a dim view.
In any case, the reputation of Caloundra Christian Community Kindergarten will take a hit, the system loses another experienced educator, and Miss Jess goes from being a respected teacher and parent to being just another pregnant-and-single Mum on welfare.
Tell me how sacking this woman has improved anything.