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Emmetsburg School Board Hears Citizen’s Concern Regarding Teacher Resignation

By Staff | Apr 29, 2008

The resignation of a teacher at the high school was the focus of the Apr. 21 meeting of the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education. The resignation drew concern from a member of the public who voiced his comments.

During the meeting, Superintendent John Joynt briefed the board that Jeff Brennan had tendered his resignation as At-Risk Coordinator and varsity girls track coach.

“We probably need to rescind the offer for Dean of Students/Activities Director for Mr. Brennan as his contract was not returned by the due date,” said Joynt. “We also need to approve offering that contract to Joe Carter, and accept Mr. Carter’s resignation as Middle School social studies teacher.”

Max Strube, as a member of the public, then addressed the board in regards to this issue.

“I’m a little confused about this situation concerning the Dean of Students/Activities Director,” began Strube. “I saw Jeff Brennan a few days after it was announced that he was the candidate of choice for this position. He was one happy young man. Then I hear he’s resigning his position, and I’m confused.”

Strube asked a series of questions regarding the interview and decision making process for the position of Dean of Students/Activities Director. Joynt explained that the candidates were interviewed by different committees–one committee of the superintendent and board members, the others consisting of teachers and students.

“As a result of that process, Mr. Brennan was offered the contract of Dean of Students/Activities?” Strube surmised.

Joynt answered, “Yes.”

“He never signed the contract?” Strube asked.

“Mr. Jurrens [high school principal] said he signed the contract in his office,” said Joynt.

“I believe he signed it, but he never turned it in,” Jurrens answered.

“Did he give you a reason?” asked Strube.

“No, we didn’t really discuss it,” said Jurrens. “I honestly thought he turned it in.”

Strube wondered what transpired in the days following the school district’s offer of a contract to Brennan.

“I’m not how much we can discuss, we’re bordering on a personnel issue,” said Jurrens. “Basically, Mr. Brennan approached me with the potential for a change, and that’s where it started.”

Jurrens shared that Brennan wished to change part of the offered position. Initially, Jurrens was not in favor of the change, but reconsidered and came up a possible way of doing it. Jurrens presented his idea to Brennan and explained that he would need to present his idea to the superintendent and school board for approval.

“I just want to clarify that none of this came before the board, none of this was approved by the board,” said Board President Karla Anderson. “It was just consideration, period. Ultimately though, Mr. Brennan didn’t return his contract, and now we’re offering it to the next candidate.”

“I’m concerned any time we lose a good educator. I find it interesting that here was this opportunity for this young man and a short time later he’s resigning,” said Strube. “I haven’t talked to him, but something happened.”

“It’s a personal decision. No one has a right to ask him that,” said Anderson. “He is an excellent educator, and we’re sorry to lose him. If there’s a problem in the system he needs to come to us and let us know.”

Strube suggested that an exit interview be conducted by a committee of community members, school district staff and admiminstrators, and board members.

“It’s important that it be done,” said Strube. “There’s something that’s happened to this young man that made him want to resign. I think it’s important that we know what that is. If it’s strictly personal, I understand. But I think he should have the opportunity to tell someone what happened.”

Strube thanked the board for their time, bringing the discussion to a close.

Board member Dave VanOosbree then made the motion to rescind the offer of Dean of Students/Activities Director to Jeff Brennan as the contract had not been returned by the scheduled date.

“I just hate losing a young teacher who is such a value,” said Don Hagen, board member. “Sometimes, when you’re young you make a snap decision you regret. I think last year when he made the decision to resign, and then reapplied, something went through his mind also. I just want to know if every avenue has been addressed.”

“He could certainly apply for the At-Risk Coordinator position and various coaching positions,” said Joynt. “But I haven’t talked to him much.”

“I guess I don’t see him changing his mind,” said Jurrens.

Anderson stated, “My feelings are–where do we go trying to figure out why someone resigns? We can look into an exit interview, but what more do we do?”

The board then accepted Brennan’s resignation as At-Risk Coordinator and girls’ track coach, and approved the resignation of Joe Carter as social studies teacher at the Middle School. A contract for the Dean of Students/Activities Director position was offered to Carter.