August 17, 2018

Roncalli Guidance Counselor Wants To Make Change, Do What's Best For Students

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
People have shown their support for Shelly Fitzgerald by altering signs made by the school. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

People have shown their support for Shelly Fitzgerald by altering signs made by the school.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The guidance counselor at risk of losing her job at a private religious school because of her same-sex marriage doesn’t want the school to face backlash, but she still hopes to see change.

Since Shelly Fitzgerald’s superiors at Roncalli High School met with her about her same-sex marriage – and told her to end it or lose her job – she’s seen an outpouring of support. Fitzgerald has worked at the school for more than a decade, and current and former students have protested the situation both online and in person throughout the week.

Officials on various levels have also taken actions of their own. A member of the school’s board of directors resigned in protest of the situation, and a lawmaker who attended Roncalli, Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis), announced plans to file a bill that would keep state money out of voucher schools with anti-LGBT policies.

But Fitzgerald’s lawyer, David Page, says she wants to change things through understanding, and do what’s best for students.

“To deny students the opportunity to experience the special place that Roncalli is and can be, is not something she would be in favor of,” he says. “While forcing change through that measure might accelerate the change, it might not necessarily accomplish her goal.”

The amount of state money the school receives through the voucher program has been a major point of contention for some. School vouchers provided the school with more than $1.5 million last year.

The chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party has also called on Gov. Eric Holcomb to weigh in on the situation, specifically whether he would support Forestal’s legislation to prevent public dollars from being used in anti-LGBT voucher schools.

“A simple yes or no from the governor will suffice,” said Chairman John Zody in a statement. “It’s time to step up. His leadership on this issue is critical.”

Page says the school has yet to decide Fitzgerald’s employment fate, but could do so as early as next week.

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