The undersigned parents of students at East Bay Catholic schools and their families and community beseech you, as our Pastor, to delay implementation of the changes to the contract for the 2014/15 school year and the corresponding changes to the Diocese’s Administrative Handbook (section 4000). We are convinced that, through direct communication with you, we can find a path to end the sadness, doubt, distrust and anger that are now present in the East Bay Catholic School community. We trust that we will find a way to preserve the school we love and address the goals of the Diocese that motivated the changes.
We, the undersigned, are of many beliefs and religions; yet, we chose a Catholic education for our children because of its commitment to the role of faith in education, the diversity that is central to its mission, and its commitment to academic excellence. Our schools develop young adults of compassion and responsibility and thus prepares the next generation to make a difference in the lives of others and the society as a whole. In our hearts, we experience East Bay Catholic schools as an asset of incomparable value to the Diocese and our East Bay community.
We understand that the Diocese has disclaimed an intention to enforce the new language to penalize teachers or staff for living their private lives in ways that are not necessarily in conformance with teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, but such assurances have not allayed our concerns, since the new language is worded broadly in a way that would enable such actions. We are aware that Catholic schools in the Diocese that are not administered by the Diocese have declined to incorporate the new language in their contracts, and that administrators and teachers have objected to this language change as a matter of conscience.
We undersigned, feel similarly compelled by conscience, and by concern for our children and their school, to inform you:
--The concern that the Diocese would intrude into the private lives of East Bay Catholic school teachers and staff by contract and written policy changes has created distrust in the entire community.
--We deplore the loss of talented, dedicated teachers who nurture our children and who will not be returning as a result of these actions. We would like to see them welcomed back in the fall.
We also know that many teachers signed the contract with its new provisions under duress and fear that they, too, will leave the school in the near future. As teachers leave and as families choose to go elsewhere, we are concerned that the schools we value will disappear. As parents, we now doubt whether the values that guided our decision to come to East Bay Catholic schools will guide the mission of the schools in the future.
--As a result of this controversy and how it has already begun to impact our schools:
• Many have questioned whether East Bay Catholic schools bound by this change are the right place for our children and families for 2014/15 and beyond.
• Many are communicating our doubts about the future of schools bound by the new provisions to prospective families who are considering where to send their children.
• Many are considering stopping or have decided to stop making financial contributions until this controversy is resolved.
• Many of us are dealing with fair questions from our children about whether whether their schools continue to be the places of tolerance and inclusion that they love.
Your Excellency, the parents of East Bay Catholic Schools need a clear signal from you. The action we ask for at this time is simple: reinstate the language in the 2013-14 contract and Administrative Handbook for the upcoming school year throughout the Oakland Diocese. Such a moratorium will allow time for dialogue and ensure that the Diocese’s goals can be achieved and the concerns of the community addressed so that the community and the mission of East Bay Catholic Schools can be preserved.
East Bay Catholic School Parent and Family Community
cc: Jeanne Jenkins