This is a bit lengthy but please read it.
From the FAForums:
I believe I have been fired from my job due to being an atheist. I don’t know if I can prove it. I really don’t think I have any legal protection from what happened but if I do I want to know about it.
I am/was a high school English teacher at a high school in central Florida. I have been with the school for 3 years. I have had no reprimands of any kind. I have had no disciplinary actions and I have never been on any kind of improvement plan.
I teach both at-risk students and regular classes. My students have consistently scored better on state tests and maintained higher learning gains per year than is typical for these classes.
I am involved in school and community organizations. My students have worked after hours to create a large scale, 2-year project that created an outdoor classroom area and an art and poetry display for our school. This was recorded in the local newspaper. Parents, students and colleagues were all pleased with the outcome. My last yearly evaluation was perfect. I received the highest marks in all categories of evaluation. I have completed the National Board Certification process and I await my results this fall.
My personal record is also pristine. I do not engage in morally irresponsible behavior in any way. I do not have any “black marks” in my background. I have never done anything illegal. I have not even had a speeding ticket.
My relationships with my students are good. I have the expected number of disciplinary issues. That number is well within the average range for my school. I also maintain consistent contact with parents and family members at all time. I make my personal information available to all parents so that they can contact me at any time. I also make a point to contact every parent at least twice during a given term.
I do not outline my professional virtues as brag, but rather an indication that there are no performance-based issues that warrant my dismissal.
Neither is there an economic reason. My administrators stood up in a faculty meeting and announced that no teachers would be loosing their jobs due to budge cuts this year. They used this announcement to explain why teacher planning time was decreasing while class loads increase.
The only remaining likely possibilities are personal. Other teachers were kept on staff that have less effective history and greater difficulties with their occupation. I was let go despite a pristine record and strong performance.
I feel that my school administrators have decided that I am too liberal to remain at their school. I do not think they wanted to risk giving me tenure so they fired me before they had to.
I know that my atheism was common knowledge because it was discussed during lunch in the faculty lounge this past December. The conversation was not heated but people were bothered because I commented that maintaining a secular environment in schools was important because not everyone believed the same things. Maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I naively believed my friends and co-workers would not get that excited about it. It did cause a small stir in the gossip chain for a while.
I also attempted to start a GSA club earlier in the school year. A student came and asked me to do it and I felt honor bound to agree. I knew my administrators wouldn’t like it but I also knew they were obligated to allow it. Ultimately the club fell through because of pressure from the administration. I gave in because I felt that they were correct in stating that the student in question was not responsible enough to handle such a controversial club.
I think the combination of these two things have led my administrators to decide I am not an appropriate fit for their school. I suspect that there is little that can be done. The evidence all seems circumstantial to me. No one ever said “you’re fired because you’re an atheist.” However, I do think that this is what happened.
My administrator withheld letters of recommendation from me while my county was doing the majority of the hiring at other schools. During that time I would have been given priority as an in-county applicant. I was not able to apply because the letters were withheld. Since then I have had one interview which went very well. I was sure I had the job. Then they called in my references and suddenly lost interest. I have not been able to even get an interview at the other high school in my county. I am afraid that I have not only been dismissed but also blacklisted.
I appreciate your time reading this long posting. If you know of any recourse that I may have in this situation I would greatly appreciate the advice.
The teacher says he will write a letter to the ACLU, but other advice would surely be helpful.