Teacher fired for pregnancy sues Butte Central Catholic Schools
BUTTE, Mont - A former Butte Catholic school teacher, reportedly fired for being unmarried and pregnant, is suing the school district. Shaela Evenson claims Butte Central Catholic schools discriminated against her. Evenson became pregnant through artificial insemination. In March, she had a boy and is raising him with her partner. Evenson claims the schools broke her contract. But the Diocese of Helena said Evenson broke the deal because she didn't practice Catholic values in and outside the classroom. Evenson filed against the Butte Central Catholic Schools in federal court Thursday. She said the school district discriminated against her for being pregnant out of wedlock. We spoke to Evenson on the phone, and she referred us to her attorneys. "She is an individual who is entitled to pursue the same rights and enjoyment of life that everyone else has," said attorney Brian Gallik. In the complaint, Evenson is demanding money for lost wages and benefits, back pay and emotional distress. Gallick said Evenson has seen a lot of support from the community. "Not only in the community; I've seen it online, an online petition went across the United States, with 20,000 to 30,000 signatures on it," said Gallik. The petition and the lawsuit don't matter to the Diocese of Helena, which stands by its decision. We went to the Butte Central Schools office, run by the Diocese. There was no comment there, so we called the diocese. "I don't think the situation with Ms. Evenson has changed the way that we approach seeking teachers who are very wonderful examples for young people in our Catholic schools," said Director of Communications for Diocese of Helena Dan Bartleson. According to the complaint, the Diocese of Helena fired Evenson for violating her contract, by not living the ways and values of a Christian lifestyle. Bartleson said the decision to fire her wasn't easy. "We really do wish the best for Ms. Evenson and we know she was a very good educator and very beloved, and so this is a very difficult situation. Even though we sound like the bad guy, it was a very difficult decision for us to make," said Bartleson. Evenson's attorneys are familiar with cases like hers. Her main attorney out of Ohio won a similar case against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Evenson's attorney told us since the Diocese filed for bankruptcy, he'll have to ask a judge to grant permission to collect money from the school, in order to move the case forward. The next step is to serve the school district with a complaint and wait for a response from the school's attorney. There is a settlement conference scheduled for October.