Court rejects Acanfora appeal



Collegian Staff Writer

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled Friday not to reinstate Joe Acanfora to his teaching position in a Maryland school because he “forfeited any right to protection by not listing on his job application that he was a member of Homophiles of Penn State,’’ according to Mike Gottesman, one of Acanfora’s lawyers.

The appeals court reversed Baltimore Federal District Court Judge Joseph H. Young’s decision that although homosexuals are entitled to their rights because Acanfora “openly pursued with publicity his attempts to be reinstated after he got to Maryland, he was a disruptive matter on the educational processes.” The appeals court ruled Acanfora’s appearances on television and radio are protected by the First Amendment, and no action can be taken against him on that basis, according to Gottesman.

Acanfora, a 1972 Penn State graduate, was transferred from his leaching position to an administrative post by the Montgomery County, Md., School District after officials learned of the controversy surrounding his Pennsylvania teaching certification, which was held up pending an investigation of his moral character.

State Secretary of Education John C. Pittenger approved his certification, finding no legal reason to deny it, after six University deans deadlocked over whether he fulfilled the good moral character clause.

Gottesman said according to the court, “It may not be constitutional for a school district to fire someone because they are homosexual, but that does not give the person the right to lie on his application. “It is a screwy way for the case to be resolved. They are avoiding the issue. We were disappointed,” he added.

“It is ironic that I would lose such an important case on a technicality, when the court ruled in my favor on the important counts. It really gets you down,” Acanfora said. “I will appeal it to the Supreme Court one way or another,” he added.

Acanfora said he will ask for the National Education Association’s financial support for the appeal. NEA supported him in his last two suits.

“The Supreme Court takes one out of 20 cases, but I think we have a better chance with this case because it is an interesting case and an important issue,” Gottesman said.