Teacher Backs Gay Policies, Fired by School Board
By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A high school English teacher said he was singled out and fired for pushing for anti-discrimination policies for homosexual students.
Joseph Quigley has worked for the Oklahoma City School District since 1994, most recently working for Northwest Classen High School.
"Kids are coming up through puberty and they want to have an idea of what they're going to be like on the other end," Quigley said. "The gay kids are hearing all the negative stuff and for some kids, that's just a little too much to take."
The school board voted to terminate Quigley Monday evening, citing poor performance.
"Giving zeros for behavior, rather than academic performance, not entering grades on Smart Web where parents can get on the computer and see what their child is doing," said Phil Horning, school board member.
Horning said the district made a good case for Quigley's termination, but attorney's for Quigley dispute that assessment.
"There was some animus about his advocacy for gay and lesbian students that is really behind the district's argument for why he was being dismissed," said Quigley's attorney Brittany Novotny.
According to Novotny, for 10 years up until 2006 Quigley had a satisfactory record, then he was assigned a supervisor not happy with his support for gay and lesbian students.
"At that point, 10 years of nothing but satisfactory reviews turned into nothing but two years of nothing but unsatisfactory reviews," Novotny said.
Horning disputes the allegations and stands behind the school board's decision.
"It's absolutely incorrect hat sexual orientation had anything to do with last night's action," Horning said.
Quigley is still being paid while he appeals the board's decision to an Oklahoma County judge.
Novotny said they are also exploring the possibility of filing a federal lawsuit against the board for wrongful termination and harassment.