The Morning Report
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This week I profiled Jared Goossens, a single father of a student at San Diego Unified. Goossens needed a full-time job to pay rent and provide for his son, but he needed after-school care to get a job, and nothing was panning out. For a year, Goossens existed in a limbo of waitlists, email threads and office visits to his son’s school.
The tight schedule created by his lack of child-care cost Goossens a job and prevented him from taking another. He feared he might lose the one-bedroom apartment he shared with his son.
It wasn’t until he spoke to Shana Hazan, vice president of San Diego Unified’s board, that he finally received a slot in the district’s free after school program, PrimeTime. But Hazan said her conversation with Goossens simply coincided with a planned expansion of the district’s PrimeTime program, and that he was just one of over a thousand families who were taken off the waitlist.
From November to March, San Diego Unified reduced its PrimeTime waitlist from 4,621 students to 3,130, a district spokeswoman said. Hazan said that reduction was driven by an increase in state funding for after-school care, but it still leaves over 21 percent of the applicants to the district’s PrimeTime program in waitlist limbo.
Hazan, however, is confident they can eliminate the waitlist altogether within a year.
A Story That Got My Attention This Week: Point Loma Nazarene Firing Opens Old Wounds
Last month, Mark Maddix, dean of theology at Point Loma Nazarene University, was unceremoniously fired, drawing pushback from others affiliated with the school. NBC 7 reported that he was allegedly fired for siding with a former colleague, Melissa Tucker, who claims she was removed for her support of the LGBTQ+ community.
“In January of 2023,” Tucker wrote in a statement, “I was informed that I would no longer be allowed to teach for PLNU because of my ‘progressive views on human sexuality.’” She connected Maddix’s firing to her own dismissal.
But in an email, Lora Fleming, Point Loma Nazarene’s communications director, disputed that assertion. “While we cannot provide specific details on personnel issues, especially with the threat of potential litigation, the decision to suspend Dr. Maddix’s employment was not based on anything related to the LGBTQIA+ community,” Fleming wrote.
Joh Gruenberg, the lawyer who’s representing Maddix, called the university’s claim “absurd.”
“They can split hairs with us all they want to, ultimately what (his firing) comes down to is registering his concern about the actions the university was taking with regard to LGBTQ issues,” Gruenberg said.
But the university, being a religious institution, has broad immunities from both statewide and federal protections against workplace discrimination, so Gruenberg said they’re preparing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
The Church of Nazarene, which Point Loma Nazarene is affiliated with, has long had ostracizing views about LGBTQ+ individuals. The church’s manual reads: “Because we believe that it is God’s intention for our sexuality to be lived out in the covenantal union between one woman and one man, we believe the practice of same-sex sexual intimacy is contrary to God’s will for human sexuality.”
The university’s student handbook echoes the belief that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman and delineates that “Students are expected to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage.” The university’s Community Life Covenant also outlines how employees should conduct themselves, including in the realm of “human sexuality,” defining marriage as between a man and a woman. “We further believe that outside this covenant of marriage, the holy life calls for celibacy,” the document reads.
Regardless of the backstory, the firings have opened old wounds for the university’s LGBTQ+ students and alum.
Tatum Tricarico, a former Point Loma Nazarene student now earning a Master of Divinity from the Duke Divinity School, wasn’t raised Nazarene, but during her time at the university she embraced the denomination. She was even on track to become ordained. But when she came out as queer and saw the pushback her friends faced when coming out, she decided she’d had enough and moved to a Methodist church in Normal Heights.
She said she wasn’t alone. Many of her friends in the queer community went through the same shift, as did Tucker who ended up switching denominations and moving to the same Normal Heights church. In her statement, Tucker wrote that the Church of Nazarene’s position on the LGBTQ+ community played a significant role in her decision to leave her associate pastor role and relinquish her ordination credential in the church in which she was raised.
Tricarico said the entire experience reaffirmed her reasons for wanting to become a minister.
“I noticed, both with being disabled and with being queer, that there were a lot of times that individuals in the church made me feel really welcomed and loved and that church structures didn’t,” Tricarico said. “I understand God to be really loving, and welcoming and inclusive. And I want churches to do that as well,” she said.
During her time at Point Loma Nazarene, Maddix and Tucker played an integral role in encouraging Tricarico to pursue becoming a pastor. Learning of their dismissal was “horrifying,” she said. “I was really upset. I think I was embarrassed to have been a graduate of Point Loma,” she said.
Tricarico hopes the attention this firing brings may force Point Loma Nazarene to grapple with its policies regarding the LGBTQ+ community. But she’s not hopeful anything will change, at least not anytime soon. During her time at the university, the topic of the LGBTQ+ community came up over and over again, she said. The New York Times even published a short documentary about the life of a gay couple at the university.
“It scares me that it will get worse before it gets better,” Tricarico said. “But I hope it will get better soon because it needs to for the community, and for the sake of so many students who go there,” she said.
In Other News
- As part of our yearly Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools push, managing editor Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and I took on some of Reddit’s questions about San Diego schools in a recent Ask-Me-Anything. As always, feel free to get in touch with me!