A San Diego domestic abuse victim is now out of a job after she was fired following a "domestic violence dispute" with her ex-husband.
NBC San Diego reports that Carie Charlesworth, a second-grade teacher at Holy Trinity School, was placed on indefinite leave and then let go because school officials feared her ex could put students and other staff in danger.
After a domestic violence incident in January, Charlesworth's ex showed up outside the school, which was put on lockdown, the station reports. Charlesworth was "put on indefinite leave" according to a message sent to students and staff after the incident. She was officially fired in April. Her four children, who were students at the school, have also been forbidden from returning.
In a letter explaining her termination, schools director Tom Beecher, and human resources director Bobbie Espinoza told Charlesworth:
We know from the most recent incident involving you and Mrs. Wright (the principal) while you were still physically at Holy Trinity School, that the temporary restraining order in effect were not a deterrent to him. Although we understand he is current incarcerated, we have no way of knowing how long or short a time he will actually serve and we understand from court files that he may be released as early as next fall. In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work there, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese.
Though the letter made clear Charlesworth and her children were no longer welcome at Trinity School, it also noted that Beecher and Espinoza would "continue to pray" for her and her family.
A request for comment from the Diocese was not returned.
In an email, Rita Smith, Executive Director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, told The Huffington Post that the Diocese in San Diego made the "wrong decision."
"Victims of domestic violence need support, and when they are punished for the behaviors of their abuser, it only reinforces the message that no one will help them and no one cares," Smith said. "It would have been so much better for them to work with her to determine increasing safety plans at her current school, or to look at options to move her and the children to another location so she could continue to support them and the children could continue their education."
Smith also said the decision to fire Charlesworth could leave her more susceptible to another attack.
"Carie Charlesworth did everything she could to protect herself, and losing her job makes her so much more vulnerable to future violence," Smith said. "Communities must stand up to these bullies and say No More!"
Statistics sent to The Huffington Post by the YWCA of San Diego County indicate that Charlesworth's ordeal is not especially uncommon:
A 2011 study by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center’s Project SURVIVE found that nearly 40 percent of survivors in California reported either being fired or fearing termination due to domestic violence.
According to a 2006 report authored by Legal Momentum Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, up to one half of domestic violence victims report that they have lost a job due, at least in part, to the violence in their lives and 50 percent of sexual assault victims report losing jobs in the aftermath of the crime.