Teacher Refuses to Sign Controversial Morality Clause with Oakland Diocese

Many parents remain outraged over a controversial contract clause the Oakland Diocese has in place with its teachers.

The contract clause calls for teachers "to model and promote behavior in conformity with the teaching of the Roman Catholic faith in matters of faith and moral...and to do nothing that tends to bring discredit to the school or to the Diocese of Oakland."

Bishop O'Dowd High School teacher Kathleen Purcell refused to sign the morality clause and said she is grief-stricken that she won't be teaching at the Catholic school next year.

"People's private lives have no place in an employment contract," Purcell said.

Parents have also launched a petition urging the archdiocese to hold off on implementing the new deal until both sides can agree on its language.

"It just makes me so sad that good teachers will choose to leave," parent Annette Tumolo said.  "Good teachers will choose not to come, and parents and students will choose not to come in the future."

Mike Brown, a spokesman for the diocese, said it would be impractical to rescind and issue new contracts. He also said the bishop will meet with the school's faculty next week to explain the intent of the changes in next year's contract.

"We hope they'll continue to learn from what the bishop has said this week, and what he might say next week, and change their mind and come back and teach," Brown said.

All but five teachers have signed the contracts, Brown said. The Oakland Diocese has more than 1,200 teachers at its schools.

Meanwhile, many students and their parents said they're standing behind their teachers, with kids wearing yellow ribbons to show their support.

"I'd love it if the bishop said, 'I've listened. Let's pause. Let's go back to last year's contract and leave time to process this,'" Purcell said.

Parents and students are also planning to hold rallies in the next few days over the issue.

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