Former Portland high school teacher claims he was fired for pro-life views
A former Benson High School teacher says he was fired because of his religious beliefs and pro-life views.
Math teacher Bill Diss was put on paid administrative leave in March and was formally fired by Portland Public Schools at a board hearing last night. He believes his termination can be traced back to 2007, when he publicly opposed construction of a new Planned Parenthood headquarters building in Northeast Portland.
"Everything changed," says Diss.
He described himself as a teacher with great reviews before 2007, but says things took a dramatic shift after the Planned Parenthood protest.
"The review I got in 2010, in every single area, were very negative comments," says Diss. "I was marked down in a whole bunch of areas. I was even marked down for how my classroom looked."
Diss doesn't believe he was doing his job poorly. He believes school leaders deliberately took issue with how he did things because they disagreed with his pro-life stance.
The Portland Public School District wouldn't comment on why Diss was ultimately fired, but they did send us this statement:
"Mr. Diss has said his termination was based on his religious beliefs and his right to free speech. That is not the case. The school district takes discipline of all employees seriously. Mr. Diss's conduct and performance led to his removal from the classroom and termination. We appreciate your request for more information however, state law protects an employee's privacy and does not allow the school district to discuss personnel matters in detail."
At an employment hearing in November, Diss confirms there was district testimony that he intimidated and harassed students and other staff. But Diss denies the claims that he ever disrespected students.
"I don't think so," he says. "I would certainly get after students. I mean, I'm their teacher. It's kind of interesting because administrators before 2007 wrote that I'm very respectful to students. All of a sudden, it just changed."
Diss says there are still ways to appeal his firing within the district. If those attempts fail, he may consider legal action.