MONTGOMERY COUNTY SENTINEL

3-1-73

 

Schools Are ‘Unlikely’ To Keep ‘Gay’ Teacher

 

Even if homosexual teacher, Joseph Acanfora, wins his constitutional battle against the Montgomery County Public Schools, his employment by the school system will be shortlived, according to Dr. Donald Miedema, Deputy Schools Superintendent.

“It is likely: that he (Acanfora) will not be recommended for continuation of hire for 1973/74 nor will he be recommended for tenure,” said Miedema in a sworn affidavit to the Federal District Court. Miedema, who transferred Acanfora from his classroom at Parkland Junior High School last September after the teacher’s homosexua1ity became known to school officials, also said that if Acanfora’s homosexuality had been known in the first place, the teacher wouldn’t have been hired and defendants wouldn’t be involved in this litigation.

Final Decision

The final decision on Acanfora’s rehiring. would rest however, with the Board of Education. The Board recently overruled Supt. Homer O. Elseroad when it reinstated a teacher involved in a marijuana case.

Acanfora won his first round in court Friday when District Court Judge Joseph Young refused the school’s request for a dismissal of the case There must be additional evidence before any intelligent determination can be made,” said. Judge Young. He added that evidence must show that Acanfora’s homosexuality impeded his classroom performance or interfered with the general operation of the school system.

A trial date set for March 26 will hear arguments on the merits of the case as well as Acanfora’s request for a preliminary injunction which could immediately reinstate him as a classroom teacher. Since his transfer, Acanfora has been working in the central office curriculum department.

School attorney Robert S. Bourbon is “weighing heavily” the presentation of expert witnesses to demonstrate that a homosexual teacher might harm students of junior high school age. Should Bourbon use such witnesses, Acanfora’s attorneys are- expected to present their own “experts” to refute such claims.

In arguments Friday, the school system stated that Acanfora’s transfer was regulated by contract, that the teacher deliberately concealed information concerning his homosexuality; his membership in a homosexual civil rights organization while a college student and his temporary suspension from a student-teaching position (a court ordered his reinstatement and Acanfora completed the ten-week student teaching assignment), and that the Constitution does not protect any so-called freedom not to be transferred.

Attorney’s View

Bourbon stressed that Acanfora was “f1auntinghis homosexuality” by appearing on television. “He has gone public,” said Bourbon. “Can you be Dr. Jeckyl as teacher during the day and Dr. Hyde at night?” “The result is to attempt to influence the views of others,” said Miedema’s affidavit with particular reference to impressionable male youths who are themselves searching for sexual identity in the junior high school setting.”

The defense suggested that Acanfora deliberate1y set the stage for this confrontation and litigation. “He is in fact a militant homosexual and civil rights activist who has foisted himself off on the Board of Education by deliberately concealing his past in order to gain a pulpit to which he had no right, who was merely transferred despite there being grounds for dismissal, and who has. repaid the Board’s leniency by filing a law suit against it.”

Acanfora attorney, George Cohen argued that had the teacher revealed his homosexuality prior to being hired and the school had refused his application the teacher would have had a similar case against the school board. “His right to free association and privacy is a matter of constitutional law,” said Cohen.

 

Cohen also stated that “Mr. Acanfora is an Earth Sciences teacher and discussion of his homosexuality wouldn’t be relevant in classroom discussion. There is nothing to suggest any more threat to any student than a teacher with heterosexual urges would be to teenage girls.”