From: THE DAILY HERALD, Provo, Utah, Tuesday, March 11, 1997

EEOC SIDES WITH FIRED TEACHER

by Brandy Anderson/The Daily Herald

An employment board sided with a former Independence High School teacher it believes was wrongfully fired.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a finding Friday that Charles M. Larson was terminated on illegal grounds.

"I feel vindicated," Larson said.

Larson said the EEOC has been reviewing his wrongful termination claim for 2 years.

Larson was fired, [along with 16 other teachers,*] from Independence High in 1993 by Principal Gregory Hudnall.

Hudnall disagreed with scholarly work Larson was publishing because he thought it was anti-LDS, Larson said. "I am a non-LDS Mormon scholar," he said. "Disagreement comes with scholarly work."

Larson said his writings were the reason he was fired. When he published a work on the Book of Abraham in 1992, his hours at the high school were cut. "They knew they did wrong, they knew it was wrong and they lied about it to cover it up," Larson said.

The EEOC backs up his argument.

Larson said the EEOC will help with legal action if a "satisfactory settlement" is not made with Provo School Board because the EEOC believes "if they went to court, this would be a foregone conclusion."

The Provo School Board says Larson was not wrongfully terminated and the EEOC decision doesn't mean a thing.

"There is no decision," Provo Superintendent Mike Jacobsen said. "And this is the same old junk."

Jacobson said Larson and the other employees fired from Independence [in 1993*] have voiced anger from the outset. This is just a continuation of their feelings.

"This whole thing's a sham," Jacobsen said. "The EEOC has no authority. All they rule on is matters of employment."

The EEOC's decision is not binding for the school district in any way.

Jacobsen said the EEOC has not interviewed Hudnall or Provo School District. It is only seeing Larson's side of the case.

But in response to the decision, the district has responded by letter to the EEOC and plans to talk with the agency to avoid court costs, Jacobsen said. That doesn't mean Provo has ruled out litigation.

"We'll have our day in court," Jacobsen said. "They're trying every straw they can because they haven't been successful yet -- and they won't be in this either."

[*NOTE: The above article contains factual errors based upon misinformation provided at the time to the reporter by the Provo School District Superintendent, Mike Jacobsen. Evidently Jacobsen was so unfamiliar with the particulars of Larson's case that he mistakenly associated it with the firing of sixteen IHS teachers and employees in that took place in 1994, a year later than Larson's termination. (For clarification of the issue, see Larson's explanatory Press Release dated August 29, 1997.) It is remarkable that Superintendent Jacobsen would accuse the EEOC of conducting an inadequate investigation, when he himself could not even identify the correct year in which a single one of his principals had fired sixteen of the district's employees!]


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