Eastside Catholic School president resigns

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jlangelerKING5

KING5.com

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 7:54 AM

SAMMAMISH -- The president of Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish has resigned following her decision to dismiss the school's gay vice principal for marrying his partner.

Sister Mary Tracy submitted her resignation to school trustees Sunday, effective immediately. In an email sent to parents and staff Tuesday night, the school said a search for her replacement will begin shortly.

"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 email said.

The news was greeted with optimism by critics of the school's decision to remove Vice Principal Mark Zmuda.  Zmuda lost his job when administrators learned he was married to another man, violating Catholic teachings.

"This opens the door for us being able to have an open communication with the board about other issues that need to be resolved," said Eastside Catholic parent Florence Colburn.

Colburn and more than twenty other parents met Tuesday night to discuss a petition for the community and for school board members, asking for changes beyond a new president.  That includes alterations to campus policy on who can teach, to Catholic law on gay marriage and for Zmuda to be reinstated.

"I don't know if fair is the right word," said Colburn of Sr. Tracy's resignation, "But it is the correct outcome.  There just have been too many misrepresenations."

Sr. Tracy did not respond to calls for comment.

Zmuda reacted to the resignation Wednesday.

"I think it's just a shame that Eastside Catholic has lost another administrator and, at this time, I can just say that I'm just praying for Eastside Catholic, I'm praying for the families and I'm praying for Sister Mary Tracy," said Zmuda.

Watch: Interview with Mark Zmuda

The suburban Seattle school and Zmuda have disputed the circumstances of his December departure, with Zmuda saying he was fired and the school saying he resigned after acknowledging that his marriage violated Catholic teaching and, subsequently, the terms of his contract.  

The following is the full email sent by Eastside Catholic's Board of Trustees:

January 21, 2014

Dear Eastside Catholic Community,

After several years as Eastside Catholic's President and Head of School, Sister Mary Tracy has submitted her resignation to the board of trustees. The board has accepted her resignation, which is effective immediately. We thank Sister Mary for her many contributions to Eastside Catholic.

Principal Polly Skinner and Interim Vice Principal Tom Lord will continue their leadership of the school supported by our outstanding faculty and staff as they carry forward with Eastside Catholic's three Touchstones of Academic Excellence, Relationships and Servant Leadership.

Sister Mary 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.

The board of trustees, along with a search committee, will immediately begin a search for Eastside Catholic School's next President.

We realize that members of the Eastside Catholic community (students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and friends) may have questions. In that spirit, the board is in the process of setting up additional town hall meetings with the Eastside Catholic community. A school parents' meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, January 23. We will notify you as soon as additional meeting dates are scheduled. The board has also established an email address for questions and communication with the board: boardoftrustees@eastsidecatholic.org. 

In closing, we want to once again thank Sr. Mary for her many contributions and to thank each of you in the broader EC community for your ongoing thoughts, prayers and support of the Eastside Catholic school. 

Tom Padilla 
Brad Bastian 
Interim Board of Trustees Co-Chairs 
Eastside Catholic School

 

Associated Press contributed to this report

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