Rallying To Defense Of 2 Teachers The S. Phila. Church School Has Refused To Keep Them. Now It Must Reckon With Parents.

Posted: May 26, 1993

Parents from St. Charles Borromeo's School, in South Philadelphia, aren't sure why two of the Catholic elementary school's most popular teachers have not been asked to return in the fall. What's certain is that they're angry - enough to complain to archdiocesan school officials and join forces in a letter-writing campaign to the pastor.

"It is just a terrible situation," said Edward W. Brown 3d, whose two children are enrolled at the school, at 2019 Montrose St.

Brown said parents learned of the situation two weeks ago when the teachers - Diane Gomez and David Younkin - told their students they might not be back in the fall.

When the parents asked the pastor, the Rev. John Van de Paer, for an explanation, Brown said, they were rebuffed.

"These teachers are very good," said Catherine Young, another parent. ''The reasons they are being let go, they won't tell us."

Tonight, the parents will be meeting at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, 17th and Fitzwater Streets, to plan a strategy to help save the teachers' jobs.

Some of the parents have their own theories why the contracts were not renewed.

"These two have spoken out about things that have not been done right at the school," Brown said. "I think the bottom line is, it is a personal thing now between the pastor and these two teachers."

Father Van de Paer said yesterday: "The action of the teachers was such that dialogue and reconsideration of the decision is out of the question."

He declined to say more.

The teachers could not be reached yesterday afternoon for comment.

Brown said officials in the Catholic Office of Education had told parents that there was little the archdiocese could do because pastors, not the archdiocese, run individual elementary schools.

Last week, parents held their first meeting at the recreation center to discuss the situation, and about 60 signed a letter urging Father Van de Paer to reconsider his decision. Brown said the parents chose the recreation center after they were told they could not meet at the school.

In their letter to Father Van de Paer, parents said they considered the teachers "two of the major assets of the school."

"We realize that your decision was not unfounded, and that you must have had your reasons for your actions. However, we would hope that, in the best interest of our children, any problems or differences between you and the teachers could be worked out."

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