WINTER PARK, Fla. - Jaclyn Pfeiffer came to Central Florida to dance for Disney. When she left Disney, she took a job teaching at Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center. Now she’s unemployed, and she says it’s because she’s gay.
“When I think of losing the job, I don’t even think about the job
,. I think about the kids, and that makes me cry,” Pfeiffer said, recounting her final days at the school.
According to Pfeiffer, rumors of her sexual orientation began to circulate after her girlfriend, Kelly, took a job in another part of the school as a substitute teacher. She said the two kept their relationship private, however, one day the director of the school called her in to her office to confront her about the relationship.
“And then she was like, 'Is it true what the rumors are about you and Kelly?' and I said 'Yes,” Pfeiffer said. “I said, 'Could I be fired for that?' and she said 'Yes.'”
PDF: Letter to parents
Pfeiffer said that a few days after the conversation with the school’s director, she was told to come by the school and pick up her things. At about the same time, a letter from the school’s director went out to parents explaining only that
“due to personal reasons” Pfeiffer would not be teaching at Aloma anymore.
Parents contacted by 9 Investigates confirm that school leaders initially told them Pfeiffer left for personal reasons, however, when pressed, the same leaders further explained that Pfeiffer no longer worked at the school due to her “lifestyle choices.”
Pfeiffer holds a degree in elementary education and had been at Aloma for more than a year teaching mostly 2-year-olds.
Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center provides VPK (voluntary prekindergarten) and, in its most recent inspection by the Florida Department of Children and Families, has the capacity for 99 children, however, only 70 were present at the inspection carried out in April of 2014. The state of Florida pays for VPK with a base student allotment of $2,442 for the school year (Orange County) and $2,080 for the summer for each child enrolled in a VPK school.
Despite the state VPK funding, Aloma Methodist, according to attorneys consulted by 9 Investigates, broke no state or federal laws when Pfeiffer’s employment ended.
While Orlando and Orange County have ordinances against LGBT discrimination, churches are exempted and Aloma Methodist Early Childhood Learning Center is located, according to state records, in Winter Park.
9 Investigates attempted to contact Aloma Methodist on two separate occasions, however, nobody from the church or school responded.