Three teachers excused from jury in Catholic school teacher’s lawsuit against diocese

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About three dozen prospective jurors were dismissed on Tuesday during jury selection in a lawsuit filed by a former Catholic school teacher who claims she was fired for being pregnant and unmarried.

Michelle Bolen alleges she was terminated from her position at St. Therese Catholic School in the Northland in 2015.

The diocese disputes these claims and insists Bolen’s contract wasn’t renewed because of performance issues that had nothing to do with her pregnancy.

Bolen worked at St. Therese from 2000 to 2015.

Three school teachers were among the prospective jurors excused from the jury pool on Tuesday.

Attorneys for both sides in the dispute asked potential jurors a wide range of questions regarding their attitudes on religious schooling, abortion, divorce, year-to-year employment contracts and “performance improvement plans.”

Bolen’s lawsuit claims a church official implied she may have been able to keep her job if she had an abortion. The diocese vigorously denies that charge. The school put Bolen on a “performance improvement plan” before her contract wasn’t renewed in 2015.

Among the three teachers excused from the jury, one identified as someone who took part in a Pro-Choice rally. Another teacher confessed to having skeptical views of “performance improvement plans,” sharing hard feelings about other teachers who had been fired shortly after.

The three teachers, and roughly 20 others, were excused from the jury pool because of the extreme hardship it would create in their work lives.

Jury selection will continue Wednesday morning with opening arguments expected to begin on Thursday. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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