THE DAILY COLLEGIAN
Acanfora returns to overall welcome
By BARB SNYDER
Collegian Senior Reporter
Joseph Acanfora, the student teacher dismissed from his position last week due to his affiliation with the Homophiles of Penn State, is back in school today teaching his earth science and biology classes and pursuing “business as usual.”
Showered by abundant “we’re glad to see you backs,” and “glad things turned out the way they did,” by both students and teachers, Acanfora said of his first two days back on the job, “they were the same as any other day before I left -- there was no change at all.
“It’s really a relief to be back -- I really wish that I never had to leave,” Acanfora commented.
Referring to the victorious day in court in which Judge R. Paul Campbell ruled that Acanfora was to be immediately reinstated to his student teaching position, Acanfora said, “I think the victory that we had in court on Tuesday -- besides being a victory for me -- was a victory for everyone in HOPS, all gay people, and anyone sincerely interested in the educational system.”
“I think that everything that has happened and Tuesday’s court decision can show the University students and the State College community if someone has courage to stand up for his rights even in the face of a powerful oppressor they can win,” he added.
Although Acanfora called Tuesday’s court decision a “major victory,” he also admitted that it was the “first victory.”
There are still two future cases which are to come to court -- Acanfora’s case, in which all the merits of his removal from the Park Forest Junior High School must be heard, and the original HOPS suit, which charged the University of violating both first and fourteenth amendment freedoms by denying the organization a charter.
According to Leonard Sharon, one of the attorneys working on Acanfora’s case, the main question to be considered at the March 14 hearing in Centre County Court before Judge Campbell is “were Joe’s constitutional rights violated?” Also to be considered is the damage to Acanfora’s professional reputation.
The HOPS equity suit against the University, which the University must respond to no later than March 2, is more complicated and will deal with the following:
— violation of the constitutional rights of the HOPS organization;
— damages for the removal of HOPS posters around campus;
— recovery of $4,000 which HOPS may have been granted by the Associated Student Activities if they would have been chartered for the past two years;
— recovery of attorney’s fees and costs.
Attorney Sharon noted that both Acanfora’s case and the HOPS case have much in common. Both deal with the violation of constitutional rights.
Acanfora meanwhile, despite all these pending problems, says he is taking one day at a time.
“Right now I’m preparing tomorrow’s lesson plan on the dissection of frogs,” he said.