On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, Kennedy Catholic High School President Michael Prato released his first public statement regarding the Feb. 13 resignations of teachers Paul Danforth and Michelle Beattie.
Reports are that both teachers were asked to resign after committing to marrying their same sex partners, an action that is against the Catholic faith and which violates a morality clause/covenant agreement both apparently signed as part of their employment contracts.
This incident has erupted into an international news story, inspired a massive student walkout on Tuesday, at least two protests at the office of the Archdiocese of Seattle, as well as at Bishop Blanchet High School and elsewhere.
A small number of protestors can still be seen daily in front of the Kennedy campus, often with a large banner that reads “Who Would Jesus Fire? #LoveisLove”
“My goal is to clarify policies that are in effect for all Archdiocesan Catholic Schools and ensure that people understand their departure is not due to their sexual orientation,” Prato said.
The teachers have both remained silent on the issue, as advised by their lawyer Shannon McMinimee of Cedar Law PLLC.
Here’s Prato’s full statement:
February 20, 2020
“Out of respect for employees and their privacy, I have been and still am not able to comment fully on personnel issues. However, given the recent publicity and level of concern, and with approval from Archbishop Etienne, I’d like to shed some additional light on the recent resignation of our two beloved teachers. In doing so, my goal is to clarify policies that are in effect for all Archdiocesan Catholic Schools and ensure that people understand their departure is not due to their sexual orientation.
“As a Catholic school, we have a deep commitment to incorporating Catholic teaching into all elements of our curriculum, activities and life as a school community. We take the responsibility of passing on the faith to our students very seriously. In light of this, every year, all teachers at Archdiocesan Catholic Schools, including Kennedy Catholic High School are asked to renew their covenant agreements. This agreement outlines the importance of teaching the Catholic teaching to students and asks all teachers to agree to live and model the Catholic faith in accord with Church teaching. By signing the agreement, teachers voluntarily agree to abide by this requirement.
“In this case the two teachers proactively came to me in November to share their desire to marry their same-sex partners. We discussed this decision in the context of their covenant agreement, and they voluntarily resigned.
“I hired these teachers and I care about them very much. I still do. I wanted to make sure they felt supported, and so we discussed several options including the possibility of finishing out the school year. We gave them the option to select the date they wanted to resign. and they indicated they wished to resign prior to the winter break in February. We worked with them to arrive at a mutually agreeable transition plan and financial package to assure they would be supported in their transition.
“I ask that we all continue to pray for them and for our Kennedy Catholic community.”
– Michael Prato