Andrew Zimmerman gives a prepared statement at the Tuesday, April 11, meeting of the Manchester Community Schools Board of School Trustees. Photo by David Fenker
By David Fenker
NORTH MANCHESTER -- Despite a large showing of community and teacher support, the Manchester Community School Board of School Trustees accepted the resignation of sixth grade math teacher Andrew Zimmerman at their April meeting.
After a personal incident occurred on March 16, Zimmerman filed for resignation of his teaching and golf coach positions at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School. He has since asked to redact both items.
The board met in executive session Monday, April 10, to discuss personnel matters, and did not have any further discussion during the Tuesday, April 11, meeting. Both Board President Steve Flack and MCS Superintendent Dr. Bill Reichhart said that they cannot comment on personnel matters. However, one board member did comment on the matter before the end of the meeting.
“I know that there are different levels of frustration... and I recognize that,” board member Brian Schilling said.
“I would like to let Andrew know that, everything in the classroom – I’ve heard everything positive that was shared today, and I appreciate that. From that point on... it’s very frustrating, personnel issues... There is a level of frustration for me here.”
Near the end of the meeting, Tracey Myers, a long-term substitute sixth grade teacher who was hired during the meeting, announced the withdrawl of her application for a permanent position in response to the night’s events.
Five people, including Zimmerman, spoke during the first public comment section of the meeting, before personnel items were discussed by the board.
“I would like to apologize for any hardships that the situation on March 16 may have caused my students, my colleagues and any fellow community members. Because it is impossible to turn back the clock, I take full responsibility for any and all consequences that may result,” Zimmerman said.
He said that he “made several personal decisions” that he regrets, and that he “unwisely” submitted his resignation after a meeting with two MCS administrators.
“Followup reports verified that I did nothing illegal, or unethical. There was nothing I did on March 16 that would negatively impact my effectiveness as an employee of the Manchester Community School district, or as a teacher at Manchester Intermediate School,” he said.
His resignation was effective March 19.
Lisa Ulrey, a former MCS administrator, spoke in support of Zimmerman. Ulrey’s daughter had Zimmerman as a teacher and as a golf coach.
“Never once did I question his ethics, or anything. He is a Christian man who we should continue to allow to be a teacher in this school district,” she said.
Other speakers included Kevin Kling and Amber Isley, both parents of students taught by Zimmerman.
The last speaker before the vote was Myers, who cast Zimmerman as a teachers’ role model.
“As a teacher now in sixth grade – and I’m not just saying this – but when an incident arises, and I need to stand and take charge of the classroom to settle things down, I often tell myself that I’m going to handle it like Andrew would, because he’s the most peaceful, calm person in the classroom that you could ever meet,” she said.
In the end, the board accepted Zimmerman’s resignation as a teacher and as a golf coach at Manchester Jr.-Sr. High School.
After highlighting a list of donations totaling nearly $4,000, Reichhart recommended that the board accept all consent items, which included Zimmerman’s two resignations.
The board accepted the items without further discussion, 6-0.
With no interruptions, the board moved on to the next set of agenda items.
Zimmerman’s resignation was revisited before the close of the meeting, during the second public comments section. Fourth grade teacher Joel Eichenauer, sixth grade teacher Annie Clark, MIS Media Center Tech Aide Allison Kauffman and North Manchester resident LuAnne Harley all also voiced support for Zimmerman. Some also expressed concern with the actions of the board.
The board also approved the purchase and lease of two new buses, for a total of $199,842. The buses will be paid for via a five-year lease with Crossroads Bank, during which the district will make semi-annual payments until they own the vehicles at the end of the lease.
Additional news from the meeting included approval of a two-year transitional kindergarten program, and consideration a policy that will allow home schooled students to participate in MCS extra-curriculars.