Catholic school reaffirms its Catholic identity amidst gay ‘marriage’ flap
Ben Johnson contributed to this report.
SAMMAMISH, WA, January 24, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The ongoing controversy surrounding homosexual teachers at a Seattle-area Catholic school has reached a climax on one point: The school will not rehire a vice principal who “married” his boyfriend.
Eastside Catholic School's Board of Trustees stood by its decision to fire Mark Zmuda at a parents meeting on Thursday night.
“The Board stated that Mr. Zmuda has acknowledged he was aware of Catholic doctrine and further knew he was not in full compliance with his employment agreement,” the school said in a statement. “Eastside Catholic will remain a Catholic school and will support the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
The imbroglio had taken a new turn with the resignation of its president and CEO, Sister Mary Tracy, earlier in the week.
“Sister Mary came to this decision after much prayer and reflection,” said a statement sent Tuesday to the Eastside Catholic community, according to a Seattle Times report.
“For Sister Mary it was a difficult but necessary decision so that a new leader can be brought in to ensure the entire Eastside Catholic community is on a positive path forward,” the statement read.
The controversy erupted when the vice-principal of the school Mark Zmuda reached an agreement with Tracy to resign after it came to light that he violated his hiring contract by entering into a same-sex “marriage.”
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An open letter from the school's trustees stated that, "During a meeting between Sr. Mary, Mr. Zmuda and our attorney, it was agreed that Mr. Zmuda would resign as Vice Principal for violating his signed agreement to abide by Catholic Church teachings as spelled out in the ECS Employee Handbook."
The handbook states that ECS “is a Catholic school, and our faculty and staff must accurately and faithfully teach and express Catholic Church teachings and values at all times. Further, the public behaviors of our faculty and staff must at all times be consistent with the values and teachings of the Catholic Church.”
The trustees' letter noted that each administrator is asked to sign the ECS Employee Handbook, and that a handbook signed by Zmuda is on file.
“When Mr. Zmuda married his same‐sex partner, the school administration was left with no acceptable alternative that would allow him to remain eligible for employment at Eastside Catholic School,” stated trustees. “Mr. Zmuda agreed that he would resign from Eastside Catholic School, effective December 20 .”
Following the tendering of his resignation, Zmuda changed the story by saying that he had been fired rather than agreeing to resign.
In an interview recorded alongside “husband” Dana Jergens inside Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, Zmuda said, “To set the record straight, I was terminated."
In a letter to the school community dated December 20, Sister Mary reiterated that, "although he was disappointed, we reached an understanding that the correct action was for him to submit his resignation," adding that she "then met with Archbishop Peter Sartain to inform him of the situation and of my decision and he agreed with the decision."
In the letter, Sister Mary said she regretted "confusion on this matter…created by statements or media reports."
However, the confusion and controversy multiplied when it was reported that the school administration was allowing drama coach Stephanie Merrow to keep her part-time job after she publicly announced she was lesbian and engaged to “marry” her partner.
Students at the school told King5 News that Sister Mary is sympathetic to Merrow and that she allowed them to quote her on social media as saying: “I look forward to the day where no individual loses their job because they married a person of the same sex.”
The trustees' letter to the school community concluded with an invitation to the parents' meeting.