Teachers terminated allegedly for being gay

By : Jamie Hyman
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Winter Park – A Winter Park pre-school has fired a lesbian couple, allegedly because the women are gay.

Jaclyn Pfeiffer, 29, was a teacher at Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center and said she was let go from the school after her girlfriend, Kelly Bardier, began working as a substitute at the same school and rumors of their relationship began. Bardier, 33, was also released from her part-time job as a substitute teacher.

Bardier said Pfeiffer had worked at the school for two years. She said they kept their relationship quiet at work but on March 18, Pfeiffer was called into the director’s office to discuss it.

“At the end of the day, when [the couple] could finally talk, we realized neither wanted to work in a place that would give you that kind of ultimatum,” Bardier said. “They said the only way to not get fired is to not live your life this way [as a gay couple].”

Pfeiffer was terminated March19, and Bardier said they received a number of phone calls that morning because the school sent a letter to parents and teachers announcing Pfeiffer’s firing. Bardier said when they went to the school later that day to pick up Pfeiffer’s things, they were “made to use the back door, weren’t allowed to go in the same door as the parents. [The school] didn’t want us talking to anyone.”

A week later, when they went to pick up final paychecks, Bardier said the school issued Pfeiffer a termination letter stating she was fired for not showing up for three days.

“They fired her illegally, realized they did something wrong, then attempted to try to fix it and made up a false reason to fire her legally,” she said.

The couple is working with Orlando attorney Mary Meeks on legal recourse.

“[Pfeiffer] was excellent and treated those kids like they’re her own,” Bardier said, adding that she’s read speculation online that Pfeiffer must have been fired for another reason besides her sexuality. “There was no other reason – they were like, we literally can’t have you working here if you’re gay.”

Pfeiffer said that before the controversy, the director had told her that she was one of the best teachers of two-year-olds the school had ever had.

“I don’t think about the job, but whenever I think about the kids, I still cry now, two weeks later,” Pfeiffer said. “I still miss them.”

As of press time, the Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center has not returned calls for comment.

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