The Catholic school teacher at the center of a controversy over remarks she made on her Facebook page about gays and homosexuality has returned to her job after being suspended last month.
In a letter shared with faculty and staff, Monsignor Seamus Brennan, the pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, said Patricia Jannuzzi would return to her job at Immaculata High School citing her “otherwise good reputation as an educator over her 30 years.”
Jannuzzi was asked to disable her Facebook page and was placed on administrative leave after MyCentralJersey.com, and other media outlets, reported on the outrage that her anti-gay comments had stirred among alumni, who felt it was inappropriate for a teacher of young students to demonstrate intolerance.
Jannuzzi’s family, fearing she would lose her job, raised more than $31,000 online. After Bootkoski issued a statement that Jannuzzi continued to receive salary and benefits and that no long-term decision over her job had been made, the Catholic leader was slammed on two radio ads broadcast on New York radio station WOR-AM and accused of trying to cover up Jannuzzi’s firing.
In a statement posted on the fundraising page, Jannuzzi’s attorney David Oakley said all of the contributions would be returned.
Oakley said Jannuzzi was “very happy” with the turn of events.
“I’m delighted with the understanding,” he said Friday. “We’re grateful to the school for engaging in the process.”
Among the comments that got Jannuzzi in trouble was a post saying gays were behind an “agenda” to “re-engineer western civ into a slow extinction.” In other posts, she compared a lesbian relationship to news of Egyptian men being beheaded and said “secular materialists (are) making our country so weak we cannot fight the dictatorship of Militant Islam.”
In his letter Friday, Brennan reiterated the “school’s position that a Catholic school teacher must always communicate the faith in a way that is positive and never hurtful.”
“Tone and choice of words matter and I trust Mrs. Jannuzzi’s stated promise to strive always to teach in a spirit of truth and charity.”
“From the beginning this was a personnel and not a theological issue,” he continues. “We are now and always have been united in our understanding and commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
In the letter, principal Jean Kline laments the “unfortunate media attention the last few weeks has been a distraction for many of us” and asks faculty to “abide by the legal constraints and limit any discussion of this issue.”
Michael Hichborn, president of Lepanto Institute, the conservative Catholic group that paid for the radio ads, said Friday he was surprised by the news.
“That’s excellent. It was a great injustice and thank God that the right outcome came about,” he said. “If they changed their mind I hope it is for a matter of justice and not for a matter of looking to see which way the wind is blowing.”
The alumni petition on Change.org was closed by the organizer with 1,188 signatures. In a message, organizer Tom Robinson declared victory.
“As a result of the petition, Immaculata High School acknowledged the problem and decided to review their social media policy. Due to the media firestorm that occurred, the teacher was put on administrative leave,” he said.
“We have taken a stand and brought attention to an important subject: Intolerance should not be acceptable in a public forum, especially not by a teacher who could be alienating children at the school.”
SOURCE: (Bridgewater, N.J.) Courier-News – Sergio Bichao