Arlington

Gay teacher says Mansfield district stigmatized her. 'I have done nothing improper.'

When Stacy Bailey was summoned to a meeting with Mansfield school district associate superintendent Kimberly Cantu, it didn't take long for her sexual orientation to become a topic of discussion.

Her case has drawn national attention as her supporters ask Mansfield school district leaders why she is no longer teaching at Charlotte Anderson Elementary in Arlington. She has twice been voted teacher of the year and received "exemplary reviews," her attorney said in a media advisory.

According to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dallas, Bailey quickly found herself at odds with the district after mentioning "her future wife" in a Power Point presentation to students on Aug. 23, the first day of school.

Later that week, the lawsuit states that Bailey "was informed by the principal that a parent complained to the school board and superintendent about plaintiff promoting the 'homosexual agenda' by discussing her 'future wife.'"

Her principal told Bailey: "I don't think you did anything wrong, but I don't know what's going to happen," according to the lawsuit.

On Aug. 25, she met with Cantu, who said, "You can't promote your lifestyle in the classroom," the lawsuit said.

Bailey replied: "We plan to get married. When I have a wife, I should be able to say this is my wife without fear of harassment," the lawsuit said. "When I state that, it is a fact about my life, not a political statement."

But Cantu replied: "Well, right now it kind of is," according to the lawsuit.

Bailey then asked about changing the policy to prevent this from happening again.

And Cantu told her: "You are right. It is time to get the ball rolling on that. You need to realize this is Mansfield and there could be some pushback."

Sitting in limbo

Bailey was pulled from class on Sept. 8 and told there was another complaint and that she had shown sexually inappropriate images to children. Bailey says in the lawsuit that the claim is false.

District officials then asked Bailey to sign a document placing her on administrative leave. Bailey refused.

Bailey told Cantu: "This is discrimination. This is wrong, and it might even be illegal."

When Bailey asked how long she would be out of the classroom, Cantu told her: "It could last two days, it could last two weeks."

But Bailey sat in limbo.

On Oct. 30, the school district asked for her resignation. On Jan. 9, she met with Mansfield school officials, including attorney Mike Leasor, who asked whether she had an agenda.

In late January, the district said it may not renew her contract.

The lawsuit also said that a March 27 Mansfield news release contained "multiple falsehoods" about Bailey. The statement from the district came in response to emails that were released to the public through an open records request.

In a series of Aug. 23 text messages obtained by the Star-Telegram, Anderson principal Sheira Petty said a parent had raised questions about Bailey's sexual orientation to Superintendent Jim Vaszauskas and the school board.

Petty was asked whether Bailey has been open with students about her sexual orientation. Petty replies: "Not to this extent. She has said she had a girlfriend and she showed a slideshow of her friends that included a girlfriend."

In a response, another school district employee said: "Call [Associate Superintendent] Kim Cantu for guidance. I will let Dr. V know we are working thru HR on how best to handle the parent's concern, employee's rights, & appropriate administrative action."

Petty replied: "I emailed dad back and said I would look into his concerns asap. The school board and dr v were on the email back to him."

In April, Bailey wrote a letter to the district, asking to be reinstated to Charlotte Anderson, and on April 24, the school district renewed her contract.

"The school district suspended me because they were uncomfortable with my sexual orientation," Bailey stated in a handwritten letter to the superintendent. "Until the district issued a false public press release, the school district did not even have the decency to tell me why exactly I was suspended."

'I have done nothing improper'

But on May 1, Bailey was informed by Vaszauskas that she would be transferred to a secondary school instead of going back to Charlotte Anderson.

Bailey had stated in her letter that she wanted to return to Charlotte Anderson.

"The families there have been very supportive," she wrote in her letter. "I enjoy working with my colleagues there. I have done nothing improper. If the district were to transfer me to another school, it would leave my career with a stigma I could not escape."

In her lawsuit, Bailey said the school district has damaged her career and placed a "stigma" on her reputation, making it difficult to find work elsewhere.

The lawsuit names the Mansfield school district, Vaszauskas and Cantu.

The lawsuit asks for a jury trial with the goal of reinstating Bailey to Charlotte Anderson Elementary School. It also asks a jury to declare that she was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay.

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna
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