March 25, 2019

Second Roncalli HS Counselor To Lose Job Over Same-Sex Marriage

Last year, Roncalli High School received $1.7 million in state funds from school vouchers. - Photo by WFYI News.

Last year, Roncalli High School received $1.7 million in state funds from school vouchers.

Photo by WFYI News.

A second guidance counselor from Roncalli High School says the school won't renew her contract because of her relationship with a woman.

Late last year, Lynn Starkey was the first guidance counselor from Roncalli High School to file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discrimination claim against the school.

Starkey and Roncalli counselor Shelly Fitzgerald say the school discriminated against them because of their sexual orientation.

Starkey’s lawyer Kathleen DeLaney says they are updating their claim to reflect what they see as a retaliation from the school.

"Ms. Starkey has been kind of waiting and watching and looking over her shoulder when the day would come when her employment was going to be affected either through suspension or termination and that day has finally come," DeLaney says.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis says contracts are guaranteed for one year and Starkey was in violation of her contract because of her civil union.

"The 2019-2020 contract language will contain the same language," the statement said. "Therefore, Ms. Starkey could not in good faith enter into the contract so long as she is unable to abide by the terms of the contract."

Starkey has worked for Roncalli High School for nearly 40 years and was married in 2015. 

Last fall, Shelly Fitzgerald garnered national attention after her appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show to recount how her marriage certificate was turned over to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Roncalli High School. Officials told her she could dissolve her marriage, resign or quietly finish out her contract.

Fitzgerald says she hopes her lawsuit will spark policy changes.

Some state lawmakers have called for changes to the state’s school voucher program, which allow some parents to take public dollars that would support their child in a public school with them to a private school. However, this proposal has not fared well in the 2019 legislative session.

Last year, Roncalli High School received $1.7 million in state funds from school vouchers

After the EEOC reviews the claims – a process that takes six months or longer – Fitzgerald or Starkey can file lawsuits against Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Fitzgerald remains on paid administrative leave with Roncalli High School, and Starkey continues her position in the school.

This story was updated to reflect that Lynn Starkey was the first, not second Roncalli High School guidance counselor to file an EEOC claim. Shelly Fitzgerald announced her intent to file first. 

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