Community Rallies for Fired Science Teacher

Local

6  Updated at 10:51 am, March 19th, 2014 By: Managing Editor
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(BLACKFOOT, ID) – The early termination of a local high school science teacher has a community in an uproar. Elaine Asmus is being dismissed from her longtime position as a faculty member at Snake River High School. Asmus believes it may be due to a disagreement she had with the superintendent’s wife, who was recently hired by the district. Officials
have not publicly disclosed why Asmus is being let go. As of Tuesday night, more than 1,800 people had joined a Facebook page supporting Asmus, who won the Idaho VFW’s Teacher of the Year award in 2011. The group’s members plan to protest the move at a school board meeting April 4.

 

 

  • Sheyann

    Small technicality: She hasn’t officially been “fired” yet. The board meeting on April 4th will decide whether or not she will be let go.

  • Nathan Hammond

    The public will not be able to speak at the April 4 hearing, so it is important to contact the school board members to respectfully express your support before then.

  • Susan

    Why is the Superintendents wife working in the school district? Like he would have no influence over her being hired. sounds like the wrong person is being considered to let go…

  • Sandy H

    Do you have the link for the Facebook page supporting her?

  • Brad Bender

    Hearing for fired teacher Friday (April 4, 2014)
    By KIRSTEN JOHNSON
    kjohnson@postregister.com

    Snake River School District 52’s school board will hold a special public due process hearing Friday for Elaine Asmus, a longtime science teacher at Snake River High School who is being dismissed.

    On Feb. 28, the school board accepted a recommendation not to renew Asmus’ contract for next year. That came following a formal complaint filed against Asmus by Laura Gabrylczyk, a science teacher at Snake River Junior High School and wife of district Superintendent Mark Gabrylczyk, according to Asmus’ attorney Paul Stark.

    The complaint outlined an argument that occurred in January between Laura Gabrylczyk and Asmus over borrowing a piece of science astronomy equipment, Stark said.

    “There was a dispute about the piece of equipment,” Stark said. “As a result of that argument, that’s what’s led us to where we are.”

    According to Stark, following the complaint, an investigation was opened into the incident led by the school district’s attorney, Bryce Lloyd. Lloyd presented findings from the investigation to the school board Feb. 28 in executive session, Stark said, with a recommendation for the termination of Asmus’ position. The school board decided that day to accept the recommendation, Stark said.

    Efforts to reach Lloyd for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

    According to Idaho Code 33-515, in order to discharge Asmus, a hearing before the board must first take place “prior to any determination by the board of the truth of the allegations.” After the hearing, code states that “within 15 days … the board … shall notify the employee in writing whether the evidence presented at the hearing established the truth of the allegations and whether the employee is to be retained, immediately discharged or discharged upon termination of the current contract.”

    Code also states the hearing is public unless the employee requests in writing for executive session.

    Asmus wanted the hearing to be public, Stark said.

    “Elaine felt the public deserved to know and she wanted the public to know what’s going on,” Stark said. “Certainly, Elaine doesn’t feel she’s being treated fairly and she wanted to allow the public to hear all the allegations both for and against.”

    Asmus has been employed by the school district for nearly three decades, Stark said. In 2011 Asmus won the Idaho VFW’s Teacher of the Year award. Numerous supporters of Asmus have commented on Facebook in protest of the school board’s decision.

    Friday’s hearing will take place at a special meeting that starts at 3 p.m. in the high school’s auditorium located at 922 W. Highway 39 in Blackfoot. The public is invited to attend, though public comment will not be accepted “due to time constraints,” according to a meeting notice sent Monday. Written letters of support or opposition may be submitted before or after the hearing, according to the notice.

    At the hearing, the board will hear the testimony of witnesses from both sides and the attorneys will cross examine each of those witnesses.

    Snake River School District officials refused to comment Tuesday.

  • Brad Bender