Denny Faber: I was fired

Board of directors, 'ultimate authority' on employment at school, won't comment on decision
Alissa Widman Neese
Jul 9, 2014

widman@sanduskyregister.com

Loyalty.

Denny Faber, Sandusky Central Catholic School's longtime athletic director, strove to embody the concept throughout his 31-year career.

His cherished institution apparently didn't reciprocate.

On May 16, Faber's career at his alma mater came to an abrupt end.

Sandusky Central Catholic School's board of directors voted to end his employment, in what school officials referred to as a contract "non-renewal," he told the Register.

He contends the act is an unjust firing.

"My life was shattered," Faber said. "After 31 years, how is it not a firing?"

Word spread quickly throughout Sandusky's Catholic community.

Numerous "school stakeholders" contacted the Catholic Diocese of Toledo this summer regarding the matter, Christopher Knight, its superintendent of schools, confirmed Tuesday.

A diocese representative then visited Sandusky to discuss the situation, Knight said.

Ultimately, the person recommended school officials offer the former athletic director another one-year contract, Faber said.

Sandusky Central Catholic School awards all its employees one-year contracts each year.

Knight refused to comment on the diocese's suggestion, which is "internal information only," he said.

On July 3 — nearly seven weeks after his firing — school officials instead offered Faber a deal: a small stipend of anonymously donated funds for part-time work, without a contract backing the employment terms, he said.

Faber declined.

"All I wanted was a contract like everyone else," he said. 

It's unclear what motivated the board's decision to fire Faber, or how many members voted to do so.

Tamara Humphrey, the board's president, said the board does not comment on any decisions involving personnel. 

The Rev. Michael Roemmele, Sandusky Central Catholic School's chancellor, is out of Ohio until Aug. 11 for an educational course, a secretary said Tuesday.

Kevin Youskievicz, longtime president of the school's independent Athletic Booster Club, said Tuesday the firing was news to him.

"I've never worked with a more professional person," Youskievicz said. "I can't even speculate as to why they let him go."

Faber is a 1967 St. Mary's High School alumnus. Before joining the staff at the school in 1983, he worked as a teacher for 10 years at Catholic schools in Fremont and Toledo.

In 2007, school students voted to rename "The Den," the school gymnasium, "The Denny," for one day each year in Faber's honor.

Faber told the Register on Monday he had planned to retire from Sandusky Central Catholic School within two years, after properly training a replacement to take on his position.

In December, Sandusky Central Catholic School hired alumnus Ryan Wikel as its co-athletic director. It's unclear if he will be the school's sole athletic director in the 2014-15 school year.

Speaking out

Faber is the first individual to speak with the Register about Sandusky Central Catholic School's work climate without fear of being named.

That doesn't mean the decision was easy.

"I'm very disappointed it's come to this," Faber said. "I've given my life to that school, and I have really mixed and torn feelings about it. But these are the facts about what happened to me."

The Register also spoke with Faber's wife, Beverly, on Monday.

The pair contends a few school board members with "personal agendas" are responsible for Faber's firing, as well as other controversial decisions occurring at the school this year.

The Fabers said they preferred the Register not publish the names of the board members, for fear of legal retaliation.

When contacted Tuesday, Humphrey confirmed the board of directors is the "ultimate authority" at Sandusky Central Catholic School. The board has the authority to hire and fire administrators, including principals, chancellors and presidents, as well as a "few other key administrative jobs," she said.

The board operates with "limited power," however, based on diocese-approved statutes from the school, Humphrey said.

Humphrey said she'll ask school officials to provide the Register with an emailed statement regarding the school board, to provide more insight into its makeup, policies and election procedures.

Beverly, who also graduated from St. Mary's High School, said she chose to speak out because she's fearful for the school's future under its current leadership.

"This school is our lifeblood, and this year is devastating and unprecedented," she said. "This is about more than Denny. We care about the school, and we want to save it."

Tumultuous year

In this past year, Sandusky Central Catholic School has been subjected to scrutiny from employees and outsiders alike.

In January, the school netted national attention when officials fired band director Brian Panetta for becoming engaged to his boyfriend of five years.

On May 29, shortly after Faber's firing, school officials implemented a controversial pay scale for teachers.

The scale cuts some veteran teacher salaries by as much as 12 to 20 percent, and teachers impacted said they wonder if officials are attempting to oust experienced, expensive teachers.

On June 18, former teacher Tracy Frederick, a 20-year employee, filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Sandusky Central Catholic School in federal court.

School officials did not renew Frederick's contract in August 2013, and then allegedly hired younger employees into positions for which she was qualified, according to the suit.

Sandusky Central Catholic School also lost its top two administrators this month.

First-year president Melody Curtis left July 1 for a job at Immaculate Conception School in Bellevue, while K-12 principal Mike Savona announced his retirement, effective the same date.

On June 30, however, St. John's Jesuit High School & Academy in Toledo announced it hired Savona as its academy principal, according to its website.

Note: Because Sandusky Central Catholic School is a private school and not funded by tax dollars, it is not required to release any documents or financial information to the Register.

Comments

The Bizness

Why does the register grab onto a story and bury it into the ground? I never understand what the point of latching onto an organization, company, or person and doing 500 stories on them over a series of weeks or months.

Babo

I don't understand the laser focus on SCCS, which by its nature due Catholic tenets cannot defend itself when there are really serious problems in Ottawa and Erie County government agencies and schools that get raised initially and then seem to get buried.

Case in point: The SR has run a series of important stories on the alleged druggings at Put in Bay including an alleged rape after being drugged as well as the story of the under-prosecution of a serial rapist. The stories all reflected the common threads that Ottawa County prosecutor Mulligan seems to prosecute cases based on politics rather than justice and that he appears incapable of prosecuting big cases. The stories run briefly (for 1-2 days) and are then pulled from the index but remain available in the search engine.

It seems to me that investigating and exposing alleged serious threats to public safety due alleged dereliction of public officials ought to take precedence over publishing gossip in a private religious school that runs perilously close to invading the federal privacy rights of students and may paint an institution in a false light.

If certain board members are the problem because they are involved in self dealing or advancing their own interests at the expense of the school, the SR should expose them while protecting the identity of its sources. Otherwise, SCCS is entitled to the same privacy rights as any other private institution to conduct its business affairs.

sugar

Obviously we are interested in this "story". The corruption in gov is also important, but corruption is everywhere, eradicate it where you can.

The Bizness

My problem is they never expose corruption, rather they just tell stories that may or may not show corruptions.

Justme...

Babo, sometimes I suspect the SR is afraid to tick off certain advertisers. They seem to go after certain stories like a pit bull. And with others they are careful because the involved parties are advertisers. Its a small paper, and they think about economics. Just my opinion.

Tyrion

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

Justme...

Examples are everywhere. Not judging...they have to stay in business. But unfortunate.

anthras

The Bizness says:Why does the register grab onto a story and bury it into the ground?"

I for one appreciate their looking into things at the Catholic community.

At the gentleman's rest room at St Mary's Church if a person wishes to wash their hands it takes a very very very long time to get hot water. Some times I wonder if the hot water heater is in the same building or if it comes from somewhere else. Hoping the Register might investigate the problem and come up with a possible solution.

Dcfred20036

They are in the business of selling newspapers. I'm sure the most viewed stories in 2014 have to do with St. Mary.

Dcfred20036

The school is very sick, institutionally speaking. I'm not sure what kind of "mass denial" is going in the Sandusky Catholic community but reasonable people need to take a stand, without fear, and save the school from itself. People in Sandusky seem to have this fear that if they publicly criticize a school official or board member they will be sued. Please, get a spine people: this is a venerable institution worth saving.

WhatTheHeck

nicely said Fred

overthis099

Dcfred20036 how about you move back to the area and run for the school board! You always seem to have all the answers... NOT!!!! Get a life!

Dcfred20036

I just have opinions, like everyone else reading the SR. Like I keep saying, reasonable people can disagree on important issues!

Chirp

Like other schools, 90+ percent of the parents and students are great people. The problem at SCCS is that the remainder of parents are wealthy enough and vindictive enough to twist arms until they get their way. The way private schools are structured sometimes allows those parents to manipulate control too easily. I was a student athlete there during Mr. Faber's tenure and I will say that he was ALWAYS one of the classiest people I have ever met. He cared greatly about that school and just because a couple board members wanted him gone, he gets the shaft.

Good luck Mr. Faber and even though you don't realize it at this point, you are better for not having to deal with the headaches of that school anymore.

Wald

These stories on St. Mary's are almost making Perkins look good. Almost.

44870 South

Wald...lets not go that far. Perkins is the last place anyone should send their kids. They have big problems, and they aren't going away.

sum ting wong

Once again, the register likes to hammer home a point to sell things made of paper with advertisements on it. I wont call it a newspaper, it doesn't report news, it reports what it wants. The fact is, HE WASN'T FIRED!!! He was not given a contract renewal! There is a big difference.

Chirp

Oh do you really believe that? Come on. IF you do, you need a reality check.

Ctwhalers

What is the school thinking of getting rid of Mr Faber. When I graduated in 87 Mr Faber was doing a good job there. I hope the school board tells the real reason why you would get rid of someone who has done so much for the school. He was gonna retire in two years and train someone. What they get rid of him cause we are not in the SBC anymore. You can not blame him. Look at the class sizes. Look at the football team where hardly no players cause you have players playing offense and defense. The school board and the school need to do a better job at getting people to come st marys. I know some of the school board members they are my friends but you guys need to revaluat some of the things you are doing cause you taking a really good school down the wrong path instead of making the school stronger and better. Do not fix some things that are not broke.

Truth or Dare

If it isn't broke, don't fix it? It's broke ok, and there isn't a darn thing anyone can do to fix it. By the way, non-renewal of a contract is just a legal/kind way to say "You're fired"! The same was done to an athletic coach @ Perkins, so private what we do and how we treat employees and students is no one's business, well, SMCC doesn't have the corner of the market when it comes to word play!

mikeylikesit

quit complaining & just bend over and take it. being catholic, you should be used to it..

I

I am glad I broke all ties with this school years ago. The majority of the people who are supporters of this school are Sandusky born, have never lived outside of this area, and married other SMCC students. They have no life experiences and are now sending their little darlings to their alma mater!

WhatTheHeck

well said Mikey

jgoad

It's a shame that in this booming economy and in a boom town like Sandusky, that the only person downsized, non-renewed, fired in the whole United States this year was Denny Faber. It blows my mind.

TheScientist

As an Alumna (who moved away, married someone from far away, and only looked back to fondly remember the "good ol' days"), I'm ashamed of what the school has become. If I still lived there, my children would not attend. The school has become a mockery, a mere shadow of what it used to be.

I was also a student-athlete, and Mr. Faber was "The Legend" for as long as I can remember. He always will be. Wikel is a great guy, and I'm sure Mr. Faber would have hand selected him to be his replacement. But this is a slap in the face. I will always have nothing but mad respect for The Legend (and this is coming from a student athlete who got in trouble a few times, courtesy of him!)

Who is next? Mr. Kohler?

Ride on, fellow Alumni. This school is not what we once remember, and certainly hasn't improved for the better.

OSUAV8TER

Denny Faber is a great man, he certainly didn't deserve this. The school board needs some radical change, this firing was hardly justifiable.

Dcfred20036

OMG, OSU: we actually agree on something!

OSUAV8TER

True, and it sounds like you want SMCC to thrive!

sugar

My thought too!

jgoad

The only sad part about the whole saga is the example these "adults" at SMCC are setting for the children they are supposed to be teaching. The school is a good school no different than any other, but a few adults who feel they have been "wronged" run to the newspaper to whine and complain. I would ask readers who have ever been downsized, fired, non-renewed or who have suffered a pay cut to share their personal testimony of how they handled the situation. Did you pout, petition, run to the local newspaper, cry to corporate headquarters, sue, badmouth co-workers? And if so, how did that turn out? Or, did you pull yourselves up by your bootstraps, move on with your life and get another job (assuming you weren't already retired)?

Pages