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Suspended Guidance Counselor Files Second Discrimination Charge Against Roncalli

Latest filing accuses Archdiocese and school of retaliating against her father

Shelly Fitzgerald.jpeg

Shelly Fitzgerald

Shelly Fitzgerald, the suspended Roncalli High School guidance counselor, officially filed a second charge of discrimination Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She filed her first charge of discrimination with the EEOC on Jan. 7.

In the latest filing, she claims that the Archdiocese and Roncalli High School “took adverse action against her father, Pat Fitzgerald, in an effort to punish and dissuade her from pursuing her action any further.”

Fitzgerald, along with her attorney, David Page, first announced they were planning to proceed with such litigation against Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis at a press conference in November 2018.

In August 2018, Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave after school officials received a copy of her marriage license showing her spouse was her wife, Victoria. They had been married four years and together for over 20.

In the months since, she has seen students, parents, and supporters across the country rise in solidarity with her cause. A few weeks after the controversy broke, Fitzgerald appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where $25,000 was donated to the new Shelly's Voice Advocacy Group. Groups including DignityUSA, Indiana Youth Group, and New Ways Ministry have rushed to her defense.

DETAILS OF THE LATEST FILING

In Wednesday's filing, Shelly Fitzgerald describes her father as a volunteer at Roncalli High School Senior Retreats for over 26 years, where he has served as a leader, mentor, and speaker.

“The Senior Retreat is offered to Roncalli students in their final year of high school,” it stated. “The retreat is a time for the students to reflect upon their life, their family, their faith, and their interactions with peers. It is often viewed as a deeply emotional and rewarding experience. Pat Fitzgerald viewed it as a deeply rewarding and emotional experience. By all accounts, he performed exceptionally well in his role as a volunteer.

“Approximately one week after Shelly Fitzgerald announced the filing of her charge with the EEOC, Pat Fitzgerald was advised that he would no longer be allowed to serve as a volunteer at the Roncalli Senior Retreats.

“That information was passed along to him by a staff member from Roncalli High School. In the aftermath of that decision, Mr. Fitzgerald was advised that he was being banned [for] supporting his daughter.

“These activities included Mr. Fitzgerald appearing in the background holding a sign that read, 'PLEASE TREAT MY DAUGHTER SHELLY KINDLY' on local television standing on picket lines outside Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“Those picket lines were formed to rally support for Shelly Fitzgerald and protest the acts of discrimination by Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

“In banning Pat Fitzgerald from participating as a volunteer at the Senior Retreats, Roncalli and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis took a 'materially adverse' action in retaliation against a person within Shelly Fitzgerald’s 'zone of interests.'

“The action was 'materially adverse' in that it was primarily intended to both punish and dissuade Shelly Fitzgerald from pursuing her charge of discrimination against the Respondent.”

Previous attempts by NUVO to contact Roncalli and the Archdiocese have been unsuccessful. Another attempt to reach the Archdiocese for comment Friday also went unreturned.

ANOTHER GUIDANCE COUNSELOR ALSO FILES CHARGE

In the meantime, another Roncalli High School guidance counselor, Lynn Starkey, announced that she also was filing a charge of discrimination for similar reasons.

To date, both women remain employed at Roncalli High School, however, Starkey, was allowed to remain in her position and continue her duties at the school, according to a Monday press release.

Starkey has worked at the school for over two decades. Like Fitzgerald, she is also a gay woman, and has been in a civil union with her spouse since 2015.

Upon receipt, the EEOC will begin an investigation into the allegations and make a determination on the merits of the charges. The average time it takes the EEOC to investigate and resolve a charge is about 10 months. Once a determination is made by the EEOC, Fitzgerald will have 90 days to decide whether to file suit in federal court, according to the release.

In the filing, Fitzgerald alleges that the school and church's actions constitute a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 USC 2000e.

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Rob Burgess, News Editor at NUVO, can be reached by email at rburgess@nuvo.net, by phone at 317-808-4614 or on Twitter @robaburg.

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