Woman fired from school for out of wedlock pregnancy
By Cameron Smith
In an incredibly bizarre situation that appears headed for a legal challenge, a Dallas-area volleyball coach and science teacher was fired by the Christian school at which she worked for becoming pregnant before being married.
As first reported by Dallas Fort Worth network WFAA, Rockwall (Texas) Heritage Christian Academy volleyball coach and science teacher Cathy Samford was fired during the fall semester after she became pregnant out of wedlock. Samford had led the volleyball program for three years and had been named the school's coach of the year once during that span.
Still, that couldn't help save her job when she first admitted her pregnancy during the fall semester, with the school terminating her based on a violation of her contract's morals clause because it was determined her pregnancy meant she was could not serve as "a Christian role model."
"I looked it up and thought, 'They can't do this,'" the 29-year-old Samford told WFAA. "We all have different views and interpretations. It's not necessarily the Christian thing to do to throw somebody aside because of those."
While Samford and her lawyer, Colin Walsh, are working toward filing a discrimination suit against the school, their case may be complicated by the fact that Heritage Christian Academy is a private school, and recent Supreme Court decisions have defended the right of Christian schools to exert more influence on their hirings and firings because they consider teachers to be "ministers in the classroom."
"The Supreme Court, as a matter of fact in the last month, has ruled 9-to-0 that a Christian school does have that right, because this is a ministry, so we have the right to have standards of conduct," Heritage Christian Academy headmaster Dr. Ron Taylor, who acknowledged that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had contacted the school, told WFAA. "How's it going to look to a little fourth grade girl that sees she's pregnant and she's not married?"
While the two parties attempted mediation, those efforts failed quickly because the school refused to consider a settlement for the case.
That has left Samford uninsured and in financial distress as she heads towards giving birth, a situation she never considered possible when she was a proud member of Heritage Christian Academy's faculty.