By Patrick B. Craine

GUELPH, Ontario, September 11, 2009 ( – The Wellington Catholic District School Board's Director of Education Donald Drone contributed a letter to the Guelph Mercury on Friday, in which he responded to the human rights complaint being brought against the board by a non-Catholic teacher who unsuccessfully applied in 2006.

Mr. Jesse Lloyd, 36, filed his complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) three years after he received no response from the board.  He claims that the board's practice of limiting teachers to active Catholics is discriminatory.

In his letter, Mr. Drone notes that normally complaints to the OHRT are private, but because Mr. Lloyd made the issue public, he is “compelled” to explain the board's position.  He proceeds by outlining the 'relevant facts' of this case.

“It is the constitutional mandate of Catholic schools to provide Catholic education to Catholic students,” he begins. “It is critical that teachers who deliver this educational program to its students be Catholic.”

Catholic school boards, he says, have the “preferential right to hire Catholic teachers who can fulfil the responsibilities of a teacher in a Catholic school and who are knowledgeable about and committed to the values, goals and obligations of the Catholic school system.”

This 'preferential hiring right' applies to other publicly-funded organizations, he points out, who are permitted under the Ontario Human Rights Code to hire, as relevant, based on language, culture, or religion.

“No corporation, organization or business hires people and promotes them,” he continues, “unless they share the goals, objectives and the culture of these institutions.”

Finally, he dismisses the claim that Catholic school boards forbid hiring non-Catholic employees.  “There are many non-Catholic persons employed by Catholic school districts as teachers, administrators and support staff who share the values of our system and contribute in meaningful ways to the mission of Catholic schools,” he says.

“In summary, we do not purport to be better than any other public or private educational program or system,” he concludes.  “Indeed, we celebrate the fact that our students, staff and faculty share a common purpose. We educate students for life and believe that the teachings of the Catholic Church are embedded in all curricula. In this way our current students and hundreds of thousands of graduates contribute significantly to the social fabric of this province.”

Lloyd's complaint is the second advanced through the OHRT this summer that threatens Catholics' right to religious freedom by interfering in their decisions about who is allowed to serve in the Church.  In June, a dismissed altar server at St. Michael's Parish in Cobourg filed a complaint against the Bishop of Peterborough Nicola De Angelis alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation.  The complaint proceeded and the bishop was obliged to explain his actions to the OHRT in a written submission.

See related coverage:

Catholic School Board Faces Human Rights Complaint for Limiting Teachers to Catholics 

Peterborough Bishop Responds to Human Rights Complaint by Dismissed Homosexual Altar Server