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Posted: 02/26/14

RCS board accepts
resignation of Gonzalez

Observer Staff Writer
      Romeo High School's band instructor has resigned through an agreement with the district.
       The Board of Education voted 4-1 to accepting the resignation of Eric Gonzalez during a special meeting held Feb. 20. Trustee Sara Murray was the dissenting vote, while Treasurer Gus Demas and Trustee Chris Young were not present.
       The board voted in October to charge Gonzalez per the Michigan Teacher Tenure Act, which regulates discharges, demotions, resignations and prescribes penalties for violations. Gonzalez appealed the board's decision to the State Tenure Commission.
       A letter sent to parents on Feb. 21 states Gonzalez and the district came to an agreement prior to his case going before the commission. Both parties agreed he would resign and withdraw his appeal to the Tenure Commission.
       Gonzalez will not return to Romeo High School and will seek opportunities elsewhere. The current interim instructor, retired band instructor John Boren, will continue to fill the position until the district determines a way to permanently fill it.
       "I appreciate the support of the parents and their students for the band program, and Mr. Gonzalez's past contributions to the program," said Superintendent Nancy Campbell in the letter.
       Campbell declined to comment further on the resignation. If the Tenure Commission had rendered a ruling, the information regarding the accusations against Gonzalez would have been made public.
       The original motion to accept the resignation was a 3-1 vote on Feb. 18 following a closed session, but didn't pass since more votes were required for the action. Murray was again the dissenting vote. She said she voted against accepting it because she believes Campbell sought votes via "round robin" from the board through phone calls on negotiating with Gonzalez.
       "I disagree with the way the whole situation was handled," she said. "It was unethical, and the attempt by the superintendent to violate the Open Meetings Act is something I can't look past either."
       Campbell sent an email to board members asking if she could call them separately to see if they agreed to begin negotiating a deal with Gonzalez. Minutes later, she said she heard from all but Murray and would proceed.
       When asked, Campbell said Murray was not correct in her description of the process. In another email, Campbell said she was following procedures recommended by the district's attorney to contact board members separately on whether to proceed with seeking an agreement.
       Gonzalez was placed on paid administrative leave in September. In October, Trustee Anita Banach referenced a 23-page document with details regarding Gonzalez's administrative leave, but not its contents.
       Gonzalez was with Romeo schools since 1998, teaching at Powell Middle School until 2010 when he became the Romeo High School band instructor.

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