The Unfiltered Story
Facing media attention and public questioning the Superintendent of schools Dr. Robin Ryan sent this response to individuals today, keep in mind this is the response EVERY email received, no one is getting any other information from the district:
I have received your email. Allow me the opportunity to correct some misinformation. What follows is the official District statement regarding Mr. Hamilton. As this is an ongoing personnel matter, this is all the information I can share at this time:
To be clear, Mr. Hamilton’s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with the reason Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination. Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination for good cause due to violations of the District’s electronic communications policies, violations of student privacy, failure to follow written directives, and violations of the Texas Educator’s Code of Ethics. In GCISD, we hold all employees to high standards for their interactions with our most important people, our students. His conduct is not acceptable for an educator in GCISD.
"Allow me the opportunity to correct some misinformation"
- Clearing up misinformation would require the district to produce actual information first, rather, they hide behind smoke screens of the word inappropriate and refuse to release the initial complaint leveled against me.
- The clearing up of misinformation addresses none of the questions the emails asked about. To date, people helping Fuel the Fight have kept our questions to two, neither of which have ANYTHING to do with me. See the Fuel the Fight page to see the questions.
"To be clear, Mr. Hamilton’s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with the reason Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination."
- This is not clear as the initial complaints have not been released, rather when the Dallas Morning News requested for documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the District blocked the request and sent it to the Attorney General, Ken Paxton.
- Thursday I mentioned my sexuality in the context of mental health struggles and the need to place personal issues to the side in order to get work done. Thursday night, parents found out. Friday morning I was put on Administrative leave pending an "investigation" which interviewed a total of 0 people myself included. Monday afternoon, I was told by Gema Padgett the school was "no longer continuing employment." What changed between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning? Only one thing: the knowledge of my sexual orientation.
"Mr. Hamilton has been proposed for termination for good cause due to violations of the District’s electronic communications policies, violations of student privacy, failure to follow written directives, and violations of the Texas Educator’s Code of Ethics"
- I am not in the business of legal refutation, but I do know this, my attorney and I have a response to every single allegation laid out in this statement. What I can tell you is this:
I was told on Monday September 9, 2019 that I was being let go for "sharing too much personal information with students." None of the allegations the district is now claiming were given to me in that first meeting, in fact, nothing was given to me in that initial meeting. My signature is on 0 documents with the school because I was given nothing to review or sign.
IN FACT: when I asked to see any documentation proving what I had "overshared" I was simply told by Ms. Padgett, "no."
When you want to fire someone for being gay, you cannot come out and say that, you have to find a reason, even if that reason has 0 justification or "good cause" now that is "inappropriate."
In GCISD, we hold all employees to high standards for their interactions with our most important people, our students. His conduct is not acceptable for an educator in GCISD.
- This is the best part of the email considering the following:
1) I am not the first nor will I be the last GCISD educator to share about my life via text or in person with students, in fact, ask the district how they have handled similar cases with their heterosexual employees, I assure you, the treatment is different.
2) My teaching evaluations are near perfect. Near. Perfect.
3) My team won a state AND a national championship in competitive Speech last year.
4) I have spent countless hours volunteering for the school district, community, and with the local kids program for low-income students.
5) I used to tell my students at the end of every class, "I love you guys, make good choices today."
6) I greeted students everyday outside of my door every period, everyday.
I can keep going but really, read the testimonials of former students and ask yourself, would you want me to be your son/daughters teacher?
Facts to consider about me:
I have been in education 10 years, I have PhD, I have never been written up or reprimanded in a decade of teaching. The testimonial page allows you to learn about who I am first-hand from previous students. I have coached state and national champions in Oral Interpretation. I love my job, my team and my kids.
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Standing in front of a group of upperclassmen on my competitive Speech team I was mid soapbox about life and the challenges we all face when I stated, "heck, you all watched me struggle last year with my mental health and met me this year on the other side as a happy, open and honest gay man, so I get it life is hard, let's put that to the side and get our work done."
Friday, September 6, 2019
I received a text message from my supervisor at 7:00 a.m. asking me to swing by around 8:00 a.m. When I arrived to the office I was greeted by my supervisor and two individuals from Human Resources. I was asked about my communication with students. Which students did I text message with and what was the content? I answered every question openly and honestly. I admitted to texting certain students given the context of my relationship with them as coach and our family/social relationships. I even let my supervisor see my cell phone. (I know any attorney would have said don't do that) I had nothing to hide. During the course of this meeting I finally asked, "what are you asking me about?" To which, the HR representative asked me, "Josh, have you told the students anything about your personal life changes in the past month." That is when I knew.
I responded, "Are you asking if the kids know that I am gay? Sure, just like they know that I was married, I have kids and travel each day from Fort Worth, sure they do it's part of my life."
I was placed on administrative leave at that time pending an investigation into the allegation that I shared too much information.
To this day, I have never seen a copy of the original compliant.
Monday, September 9, 2019
I was directed by my supervisor via text message to meet at the HR office at 3:30. Oddly enough, another employee was in the waiting area for the same meeting at 3:00 p.m. When I entered the meeting the HR person stated, "Josh, we have done our investigation and decided we are no longer going to continue employment." I was stunned. I had been given no explanation other than "sharing too much information with students." No evidence. No due process. Nothing.
I asked to see the text messages the district claimed to have that indicted me on said charges and was told "no, we need to protect the privacy of the student." Keep in mind they are my text messages as well. When I asked for them to be sent to my attorney, the district stopped talking.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
I finally get to review the text evidence. The school was citing 8 text messages between myself and one student. This particular student was my son's care-taker, his best friend and would Facetime him at night to encourage him to FINALLY go to sleep. I heard more about him/her than I did about members of our immediate family. What I thought was a solid relationship between my family and the student's family ended up being wrecked after I came out as gay. I had been in their home, left my son in their home under their care, shared meals with them, and spent countless hours coaching and mentoring their child.
The texts in question covered a range of topics from my son, Jackson, to my new dating life and separation with Sydney. All of which the student knew because he was very much a part of our family. Unfortunately, the parents did not see it the same way.
Throughout this ordeal parents have been told time and time again by school officials that "Hamilton did nothing illegal or immoral."
The school was citing the electronic communication policy as justification for termination. Read it here, and, under their own clause, determine if your care-taker is part of the family or social relationship.
October 3, 2019
I received a letter from the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) indicating that my case with the district is under review and as an educator, I was under review. I was again stunned as I kept hearing "Hamilton did nothing illegal or immoral". In a shocking turn of events the school district violated their own policy for mandated reporting to SBEC, which can be found here (page 56). This violation in their own policy will keep me from securing another teaching position until this ordeal has cleared.
Monday, October 21, 2019
The first school board meeting where you can hear the charges read against me. Click here and fast forward to hour 1:06.
The word inappropriate was the word of the evening. What seemed inappropriate to me was the lack of due process, continued threats of termination, and request for resignation, and the lack of questions for me about what actually happened. It seems that it merely inappropriate to be a gay man working this school district. That is an inappropriate message to send to our students, especially our LGBT students. The charges as they are read seem to be disheartening because they are layered in ambiguous language and are intended to make you believe I did something immoral or illegal. See previous statements on that issue. This is an attempt to terminate an employee because parents were uncomfortable with me disclosing my sexuality. I put it like this:
Had I mentioned my new girlfriend in those texts or said that I came out on the other side in a new relationship with Susan, would this website exist?
My attorney and I plan to appeal this decision in front of a neutral party appointed by the state. This will take time and money but for me, the fight is worth it to clear my name and pave a path forward so this doesn't happen to anyone else.
If you are so inclined to get involved we have several ways you can help, they can be found on the get involved page.