Do you believe the Principal acted in a just manner in this case?
The St. Timothy Catholic School Faculty Handbook (2015) expressly states Diocesan policy that, “the school, with permission… may suspend or dismiss a professional, contracted employee at any time, and without any requirement of a particular progression or sequence of discipline, for cause, including, but not limited to…inappropriate conduct/communication with a student….” (p. 94). This policy applies at the high school level as it reflects the Diocesan policy.
Under the circumstances of the case study, it is a reasonable to conclude that the students, and/or Fr. Clyde, were drinking alcohol. As the group was observed in a bar, this conclusion appears likely, however, there is no evidence presented in the case study that proves the high school students were drinking alcohol. Furthermore, it is not illegal in Virginia for minors to sit at the bar. Nevertheless, Fr. Clyde exercised very poor judgment in ministering to the four high school students in that locale. The additional information that the bar was known to cater to the gay community is inflammatory, although not entirely relevant. Fr. Clyde’s conduct in this case is, at the very least reckless, and potentially illegal. There is no room for such conduct on the part of a school employee who is also seen as an advisor and authority figure. Confidence in Fr. Clyde’s ability to conduct himself appropriately in the presence of students is irreparably damaged, and termination of his employment is the natural consequence.
Sergiovanni (2015) lists five forces of leadership, and it is incumbent on each principal, to “understand the complexity of organizational life.” (p. 139) The pri...
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...er has to build bridges” to be successful in reaching goals. (p. 142) Without a reputation for good moral character, the principal will have a difficult job forming the relationships for success.
Is the school’s best interest being served by the removal of the priest?
The best interests of the school were met by the firing of Fr. Clyde. Openly visiting a gay bar in the company of underage students is the type of conduct that could make it almost impossible for Fr. Clyde to be effective in his role of moral leader and chaplain. There is a certain level of hypocrisy in this behavior.
The principal should meet with those closely affected by the termination so they understand the nature of the wrong behavior. The students directly involved may not understand that there are more “moral” ways of forming a relationship with the popular priest than meeting him in bars.
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