A Catholic school in a Seattle suburb is holding strong to its religious convictions by refusing to rehire its former vice principal who was fired in December after marrying his same-sex partner. The school has refused to rehire the employee even after student protests and massive public backlash.
Eastside Catholic School, located in Sammamish, Wash., told parents at a closed meeting last Thursday that it will not be rehiring former vice principal Mark Zmuda, who was reportedly let go in December for marrying his same-sex partner. The school said it will remain true to its Catholic principles and the Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality despite protests from students to reinstate Zmuda. Protests included an online petition with over 20,000 signatures in support of the vice principal.
According to local station KIRO-Radio, the school released a statement following Thursday evening's meeting that reiterated its compliance with Catholic teaching. "Tonight at a parent and faculty meeting, the Eastside Catholic Board of Trustees reaffirmed that the school will not be rehiring Mark Zmuda. 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."
"At tonight's parent and faculty meeting, the Board reiterated that the school is focused on a positive path forward guided by its three touchstones of Academic Excellence, Relationships and Servant Leadership. Eastside Catholic will remain a Catholic school and will support the teachings of the Catholic Church."
Eastside Catholic School has endured a tumultuous past month after students protested the termination of Zmuda. Zmuda stopped working at the school on Dec. 20, 2013, and although the school said he technically resigned, the vice principal said he was fired.
Following Zmuda's departure, nearly 21,000 of the vice principal's supporters signed an online petition and issued it to the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese on his behalf, and some protesters even gathered at the city's local archdiocese office to march in protest of his firing.
The archdiocese expressed solidarity with the school's decision, saying in a statement earlier in January that "the school made its decision after a period of reflection, period of consultation, and having made that decision, the archdiocese supports them in that decision."
Following the controversy over Zmuda's resignation, the high school's principal, sister Mary Tracy, resigned from her post. A letter by Eastside Catholic's Board of Trustees issued last Tuesday stated that "Sister Mary [Tracy] came to this decision after much prayer and reflection. 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 moving forward on a positive path."