Case about a fired gay teacher: Pfäffikon tries to free himself and presents voters with a bill of 120,000 francs

Case about a fired gay teacher: Pfäffikon tries to free himself and presents voters with a bill of 120,000 francs

Case about a fired gay teacher: Pfäffikon tries to free himself and presents voters with a bill of 120,000 francs

At the community meeting, the school administration commented in detail for the first time on the crisis of recent weeks.

In Pfäffikon the school blessing continues to function poorly.

In Pfäffikon the school blessing continues to function poorly.

Frédéric Cirou / Imago

On Monday afternoon, the Chesselhuus town hall in Pfäffikon (Zurich) is filled to the last seat. About 250 voters attended the community meeting. Tele Züri reports on this, Radio SRF also. Not because of the annual accounts, the first item on the agenda. Nor are most of those present likely to be interested in billing for renovation work on a local school building.

They came mainly following an urgent request from the local SP, GLP and SVP. A citizen also asked for information on an issue that has been worrying the population for months and that has made the town headlines far beyond the Oberland: Why did a gay primary school teacher have to leave the Obermatt school? Did the community allow itself to be pressured by Christian conservatives and Muslim parents who had protested against the man’s sex education classes? Did those responsible prefer to sweep the matter under the rug instead of communicating transparently?

Murmurs in the audience

Roger Klos, vice president of School Maintenance, takes the floor. The UDC man is not part of the local council. But his superior, Hanspeter Hugenobler, from the EPP, will be president of the school at the end of May. resigned with immediate effect. So now Klos has to stand up and report how the professor was fired.

From the beginning, the school’s vice principal speaks to an accusation that has been leveled at the community over and over again since then. “Zurich Oberlander” The matter became public in mid-April: school administrators, the community and the school leadership had communicated from the beginning in an overly defensive manner. This attitude had led to speculation that the teacher might have been fired because of his sexual orientation.

Klos, for his part, highlights that in recent weeks they have been busy with media inquiries and that the community’s limited resources have been used mainly to ensure the operation of the school. “We were successful.” Furthermore, Klos reveals, an agreement was reached with the professor in question to maintain secrecy, an agreement that he did not fulfill. “That,” Klos continued, “caused immense financial damage.” Later, the college’s vice president could not help but specifically quantify these damages. The local parties concerned had asked for a specific list of crisis management costs.

The municipal administration carried out this task meticulously. Until the contract with the professor was terminated in March, around 17,000 francs had been spent on lawyers and communication measures. In addition, a severance payment equivalent to three months’ salary plus the personnel costs of the vicariates necessary to replace the professor (about 46,000 francs) was paid. After the unpleasant story hit the media in April, the community had to bear another 60,000 francs in legal and communication costs.

As of June 10, a total of 121,895 francs 85. A murmur runs through the public when Klos presents this banknote.

Riots in the school building

Also illuminating are the statements Klos made that night about the history of the conflict. Some parents pulled their children out of sex education classes last November. The reason: the teacher showed the children in class how homosexual men satisfied themselves sexually. The school administration investigated these allegations. They didn’t come true, Klos said.

The school management rejected the allegations in writing and asked the affected parents to send their children back to class. After all, Roger Klos, vice president of the SVP, recalled at the community meeting that sexual education lessons are part of the curriculum 21. And this is binding for everyone, even for parents who “don’t like content of the study plan.

But at the Obermatt school in Pfäffikon the escalating spiral continued. The community reports tumultuous scenes at the school because critics of the teacher in question did not want to accept the reprimand from the school administration. They are said to have filed complaints and also threatened to remove their children from classes in other subjects.

The 10:49 p.m. email

On the other hand, the teachers showed solidarity with their colleagues. At the beginning of February they wrote to the school’s management and administrators: “This is no longer about any educational content. It is about (the gay teacher being discriminated against by some parents) because he is homosexual”, an accusation to which those responsible for the Pfäffik school were exposed immediately after the employment contract was terminated a few weeks later.

At this point, Klos can only repeat what he has already stressed several times before journalists: “Neither the design of the lesson nor the sexual orientation of the teacher led to the separation.” end of april Klos told NZZ: «We can clearly say that it was not like that. “There was no discrimination.”

The school’s vice president’s descriptions at the community meeting suggest that those responsible saw no other way out of an already complicated situation than to part ways with the teacher in question. This decision was communicated to the man by the school management in an email sent late in the afternoon of February 12 and subsequently sent to the “Oberländer”.

For the municipality of Pfäffikon one thing is clear: this email was a mistake. The professor was not heard with due guarantees nor was it taken into account that the man was on sick leave at that time and that, therefore, a unilateral termination of the employment relationship was not possible. This mistake was immediately acknowledged, he personally apologized, and then a separation agreement was reached with the teacher, who agreed, Klos said.

The mayor says: “This is very worrying.”

The municipality hopes that with these explanations, based on the provisional results of an investigation it commissioned, a first line can be drawn on the matter. In Pfäffikon people want to look forward. Teachers and school authority employees must receive training to be prepared for future crisis situations.

However, Mayor Marco Hirzel did not want to deny the impression that the free church fathers, conservative and Muslim circles had achieved their true goal: the gay professor no longer teaches at Pfäffikon. “That is very worrying. “That is one of the crucial lessons we want to learn from this so that something like this cannot happen again,” the UDC politician told Radio SRF on Monday.

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