Hundreds of parents, students, and teachers gathered in the Snake River High School auditorium today to show support for a science teacher whose contract was not renewed by the school board after 28 years of educating in the district. We were at Mrs. Elaine Asmus’ due-process hearing today to find out why the board decided to take, what her lawyer called, the most extreme of punishments.
“She is an excellent teacher, and excellent teacher, it’s really sad to hear this,” said one of her former students, Eric Torres.
To her students, Mrs. Asmus is a beloved science teacher, having an ability to simplify complex subjects, far beyond your average teacher.
“I go to Blackfoot, and I did not understand the way the teacher was explaining it at Blackfoot, so I came to get help from Mrs. Asmus and without her help I would not have passed that class,” added Torres.
But the reason the Snake River school district’s board recommended to part ways with such a valuable asset goes beyond education, and into the environment she was said to have created with her colleagues. Most notably, a conflict with a Snake River Junior High teacher Laura Gabrylczyk, wife of the district’s superintendent.
“She described things to me that are similar to elements I would look for in something that intentionally inflicted emotional distress,” said Bryce Lloyd, the district’s attorney, of Mrs. Gabrylczyk’s experience.
Mrs. Gabrylczyk’s experience is just one of many reports the attorney said he had from current and former teachers in the district.
“This a complaint specifically about hazing, harassment, sexual harassment, intimidation, cyber bullying, bullying, or menace,“ added Lloyd under oath.
Still, the vast majority of the audience was there in support of Mrs. Asmus, wearing red to show their loyalty without having to say a word. But those that did talk, were still very clear about what they think the board’s priority should be.
“I don’t think they can afford to lose a teacher like her,” said Torres.
The school board will accept written testimony on behalf of or opposing Mrs. Asmus’ contract renewal until this Monday at 5pm if you have an experience that would contribute to making this tough decision a little easier. You can email those comments to the District's Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: The meeting concluded around 11:15 Friday night after witnesses on both sides of the conflict testified and were cross examined. The hearing will continue Monday evening starting at 6 pm in the Snake River High School Auditorium.