A lesbian teacher and coach reportedly has reached a settlement with the Waxahachie charter school where she accused administrators of firing her due to her sexual orientation last year.
“Due to ongoing inquiries from the media and public, LifeSchool of Dallas and Nichole Williams are issuing the following joint statement,” reads an email sent to Dallas Voice tonight by Williams’ fiancee, Jen DeSaegher. “Ms. Williams and LifeSchool have discussed and amicably resolved all concerns related to Ms. Williams’ previous employment with LifeSchool. Both LifeSchool and Ms. Williams would like to thank students, parents and the community for their support, encouragement and involvement. The LifeSchool leadership team wishes the best for Ms. Williams’ and her future endeavors. Likewise, Ms. Williams would like to thank LifeSchool and its students and parents for the opportunity to coach and teach.”
The statement provides no further details.
Williams, 26, taught 9th-grade geography at Life School Waxahachie, one of the charter school’s five campuses in North Texas. She also served as varsity girls basketball coach and assistant volleyball coach. As we reported, Williams was terminated a day before the basketball season began in October. She filed a grievance with the school alleging she was fired based on her sexual orientation, which reportedly became known to administrators after DeSaegher began attending volleyball games this fall.
Parents and students rallied in support of Williams, submitting a petition to the school calling for her reinstatement and demanding to meet with administrators. Although Williams initially sought reinstatement, she later said she would settle for severance pay and removal of the termination from her personnel file so she could resume her career elsewhere.
With the help of public pressure, Williams apparently managed to negotiate a settlement even though she had little legal recourse. Texas is one of 29 states that lack bans on anti-gay job discrimination, which isn’t prohibited by federal law, either. And, although case law generally protects gay teachers at public schools, experts say courts have ruled that those provisions don’t apply to charter schools, even though they’re taxpayer-funded.