A Catholic high school staffer was fired for writing a letter to a local paper criticizing public schools and asserting a quality education stems from values and family support, especially when modeled after Jesus Christ.

Kathy Peters, who lost her job Wednesday as director of recruitment for DeSales High School in Geneva, N.Y., told the Finger Lakes Times she felt she was “stabbed in the back by the administration.”

“I just knew [I was in trouble], but I didn’t think they were going to fire me,” she said. “I thought I was going to get a reprimand.”

In her May 6 letter to the Times, Peters also said public schools spend too much money on new buildings at the expense of education.

The letter touched off a firestorm of response to the paper from DeSales graduates and Geneva City School District employees.

Dr. Karen Juliano, DeSales’ principal, said the policy of the Rochester Roman Catholic Diocese is not to comment on personnel matters.

But Juliano wrote a letter published by the Times explaining Peters’ missive “did not represent DeSales High School, was not authorized by DeSales High School, and does not represent the opinions of the board of trustees, administration, faculty, staff and students of DeSales High School. We certainly do not wish to use the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of the local newspaper as a recruiting tool.”

Peters, who served as principal of another Catholic school for nine years, said she was shocked Juliano specifically reprimanded her for mentioning Jesus’ name in the letter.

As Catholic educators, she noted, Jesus is the reason for everything they do.

The fired administrator insists the letter had nothing to do with recruiting, and she was speaking of public schools in general.

“It wasn’t what I was intending at all,” she told the Geneva paper. “I was trying to support the public school teachers by saying where the money should go.”

Peters said she also did not sign the letter as an employee of the Catholic school. But the paper’s policy is to list the title if it’s relevant to the topic.

Peters told the Times she was shocked at the lack of support from her school and the diocese.

“I just feel like I was really betrayed by the diocese, because they gave the approval for this,” she said. “I’m so tired of this diocese and their injustice to Catholic education. This diocese, I don’t care what they say, does not support Catholic education.”

She also feels persecuted by Bishop Matthew Clark, the Times reported.

“What burns me up is that they said I did more damage to that school with my letter than anyone else and that they’ll never be able to repair the damage,” she said. “I have trouble believing that one letter to the editor could do all this.”

Peters, who apologized for causing so much stress to school employees and students, said she plans to take the next two weeks to spring clean then look for a new job.

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