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

sugar

Calling out wrong doing and getting on with things are not mutually exclusive. Did you know that only 3% of the population were willing to stand up to King George, and began the American Revolution?

Informed

I would hope anyone that was unfairly let go would fight it, and not just take it like a doormat.

jgoad

That's kind of my point. Nobody was unfairly let go. Unless you want to contend that anyone anywhere is always unfairly let go. People are let go all the time everywhere, if you wanted to you could find something unfair about any of them. He was not let go unfairly from the perspective of making proper choices for the long term viability of the business. It's not that hard. Everyone there is on a one year contract. His was not renewed. Sucks on an individual level but nothing unfair about it.

Common Sense

From your post, I am assuming that you have never worked in a Catholic school. Given years of glowing recommendations, being a model for students and staff alike, and countless hours (unpaid), and that service is to your alma mater where you are considered "family", a "non-renewal" without explanation is a firing! Do you work for people who promote "social justice", yet never practice it???
SCCS is not the first (nor will it be the last) to practice this form of "word play". It really is more like a "sin of omission". Denny is making noise for all those teachers who have been turned away as they grew closer to retirement. It is not always that they are not fit to teach, but they are an expense and if they make it to forty years, they would receive a full pension from the diocese (another joke!).
Until you have walked in Denny's shoes (or worked at a Catholic school), do not criticize. There are many more out there who have received this same treatment. They do not speak out because they are too hurt. They never saw it coming.

Apples don't fa...

sugar you are right we know the 3 board members that are ruining this school trying to throw their weight around. ST. Marys has always been a school that as long as you have the right last name or money that your word was the gospel. Well these things and people on this board is whats going to take this school down to the ground where it won't be standing any longer. Please someone act now and save this school!

overthis099

Once again people on here commenting on something they no nothing about. He was not FIRED. I thank him for all his years of service to the school but you need to change with the times. How many times have we read in this newspaper a quote from a business "we are going in a different path" This is one of those cases, he knew this was coming, he chose not to change. Parents got tired of hearing "we've been doing it this way for the last 20 years". Parents were constantly going to board members and complaining about him. If he had just stepped up and talked to the board on what he could do and not "walked out" things would have been different. I will say I have lost some respect for him as someone close to him went to a board members house and screamed and used profanity at them, this was uncalled for. I understand emotions are running high but it was not one persons decision, it was a "Board decision". The ones who are suffering are the kids, they read these posts. I've heard many comments from kids asking why do so many people "Hate" catholic's and our school. It's a shame it has come to this! You should have left with some dignity but I'm afraid it's to late for that Mr. Faber. Good Luck in your "retirement".

jgoad

Exactly. After this article they should refire him.

Chirp

Non-renewing is firing. Please. "Board decision" --- THAT IS RICH! haha.

arod1112

As a SMCC alum and former Board member I will be the first to say that Denny Faber has been and will always be an outstanding AD and great guy. However, times change and he wasn't up with that change. I was told that he was the only SBC AD with no cell phone making him difficult to reach. As time goes by, things change.....no longer can businesses or government or schools run as they did in the past 20, 30, 40 years. Denny would not change. It is difficult to train old dogs to do new tricks, Denny was no exception. If this is the reason he was 'fired' then it is understandable as he was probably asked to change on more than one occasion. At the same time, he was due to retire and sometimes people just don't know when to leave, especially when given all his years, experience, devotion and time to the SMCC community. The next AD will have huge shoes to fill no doubt. I'm sorry Denny feels bitterness towards his alma mater, but I hope he realizes being forced to retire isn't a bad thing. He's given all he can, it's time he enjoys life! It isn't his job to save the school, but the SMCC community and alum. Personally, I believe the Board President should step down. As well as any other Board members who do not understand their purpose on the Board. It is not a totalitarian Board....one person CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT be making major decisions. Elections need to be better monitored so that appropriate elected parishioners serve. The election and ballots should occur and ballots collected immediately before mass or after mass to prevent fraudulent voting. WAKE up SMCC community & ALUMNI step up and SAVE THE SCHOOL!! before the bad press closes it permanently!!!

sugar

Weren't your incendiary comments about people removed once before, arod?
No one wants the school to close, we want a better more equitable arrangement. Yes the times have changed and the few who want to control the majority must back off. We will save the school, from you!

Donald Szpozors's picture
Donald Szpozors

very well written, anthras. I concur 100%. I appreciate the ongoing investigation into this corrupt school system. As a Catholic, I am appalled at their politicking and unethical behavior..,but yet not surprised.
They continue their blemish on the diocese.

Im still absolutely disgusted with how they handled the firing of Mr. Panetta in January. Regardless of his orientation, he was and will continue to be an exemplary, equisite role model for students. The school made complete asses of themselves over that situation.

And now with this firing of another outstanding coach and leader, their negative reputation continues to grow. How many 'other' secrets are these Board members hiding behind? Money talks. Long standing community 'names' apparently talk as well.

As someone formerly involved with community and educational organizations in Sandusky, Clyde and Fremont- they all lead by ignorance, fear and power- firing and 'calling the shots' as they see fit no matter 'how' unethical. Yet these same so called 'leaders' are the ones with 'Peyton Place' levels of secrets and skeletons in their closets to hide.

arod1112

Whats your problem Sugar? You think I don't want the school to survive and thrive??? I DO!! But every administrator and teacher isn't always the right fit or deserves to retain a job if they don't perform as requested or up to par. Jobs are earned and entitlements no longer exist in education. Just because someone has been someplace for a long period of time doesn't mean they couldn't be fired/replaced/denied rehire!! Get over yourself!! The Board isn't functioning the way it was intended to function. Those with large donations to the school need to have their own member on the Board? Seriously? Why? Just because they are who they are and money talks. That doesn't make it right or just. It shows arrogance on the part of the donor and lack of trust of the Board members. It wasn't originally designed to have such a person. If you think you are all that, run for a seat on the Board!! The problem is funding of the school. Parishes give very little of their collection to the school anymore. Younger alumni are bitter and angry at the school system and no longer financially support the school. Older alumni may still support the school, but lack the major funding needed to keep the school moving forward. Odds are you don't send children to the school or support it financially, so shut your trap or open your wallet!!

sugar

If you are the product of an SMCC education arod I can see why no one is opening their wallets. You're a hot mess. Lol

arod1112

And your just ignorant Sugar.

Tyrion

* you're
SMH

puppy

Everyone keeps talking about the class sizes keep getting smaller..I dont get it....Actually St. Mary graduating seniors of 2014 had I believe 47 kids, last year they only had 32 if I remember correctly. I graduated from the cleveland area back in the late 80's and I had 624 in my graduating class. These days there are not NEAR that amount of kids graduating. Its the times people, not the school system !

MrGadfly

Most people do not take board positions to control an organization. But, over time people lose sight of their responsibilities. Positions such as these need some type of term limits to minimize this possible problem.

SMCC is one of many schools who have this issue.

arod1112

Exactly!! There are term limits for Board members. Current President will begin her second year on the board. They are elected to 3 year terms.

overthis099

You are mistaken arod112 the board president will be starting her 3rd year! You of all people should understand about restructuring, sometimes people loose their jobs!

observer

Round up the high school band and let them start playing "Nearer My God To Thee" like they did on the Titanic......because, folks, this ship (SMCC) is SINKING!!

k9unit

I just out loud laughed :) ^

Dcfred20036

Does anyone know if the Diocese of Toledo has the legal authority to place the school in receivership for reasons other than financial insolvency? I would encourage conscientious board members to resign their office. The school needs a fresh start.

Another Day

DCFred they would have to shutdown for that. The diocese is not sinless in this; they caused many of the issues.

Apples don't fa...

Donald Szpozors well said! arod112 you are getting pretty hostile you sure you aren't one of these idiot board members with the big ego?? Who more than likely except for their kids to get "the special treatment"there wether its being hush hush if their child gets caught cheating or making sure their child plays over other kids in sports wether they have the ability or not. This crap has been going on here for years and needs to stop! Get rid of all the board members and let the church members vote on who is capable to be on it. Definitely not ones that their children are still in school there. I can guarantee the school would run a hell of a lot better. God Bless you Mr. Faber so sorry you were screwed over like this you did leave with dignity and are loved by so many as I'm sure reading these you already know!

Another Day

As long as the parents are able to escalate their issues to the BOD, CCAB and Endowment Committee or whatever they call all the subcommittee's. Too many committee's to count. The CCAB gave their biggest fundraiser to the school to run then took it back when Melody left. Does that tell you anything! This is no secret either. Glad that they did take it back, they do a great job!

arod1112

Apples, not sure how I'm being hostile. I am not a current member of the board and my kids received absolutely NO SPECIAL treatment. I am not a known 'name' at the school and my family has no pull. I served on the Board at the time of unification due to being on one of the 3 school advisory councils. As that was where the first Board members came from. I served my 3 years and did not seek re-election as I had enough. There are good people serving on the current Board that can make an impact on the school. However, there are also those serving on the Board that see it as a 'power position' and are not serving for the proper reasons and therefore should step down. Don't blame all for the actions of a few.

Tigress

Wasn't Melody Curtis there when all of these talks started about Denny Faber? Wasn't she in charge when she recommended this change to the board? Everyone is yelling at the board and blaming them. When they supported her decision (like a board should....they are not suppose to micro-manage) and things happened where is M. Curtis? Gone...... leaving the board holding her baggage!

Karma2u

EXACTLY!

Another Day

This is getting so out of control again. Weekly there is an article like this. This is NOT "new" news, he knew per the article in May. It is now July. This is just getting ridiculous. I agree the house needs to be cleaned, but some of the departing staff have caused the issues that we have now. I have heard many times "This is how we have always done it", or "That is the deal we made when we merged parish schools". That is crap. Most of the kids and families are not from around here anymore; those families with names "are" being stood up to, but nobody at the school did anything about it. I mean at the school; administration! Complaints about the "cell" of teachers who control that school have gone on deaf ears. That is why certain administrative people are gone, that is why enrollment is down.

Hopefully now even though we may have to put up with them for another year (and they know who they are), they will be gone and fired by the new principle. I suggest they plan on leaving on their own because the families who stay will keep complaining and you will not get your renewal next year. RETIRE NOW!

The core problem has nothing to do with the board of directors decisions they made some for a reason, they are trying to break through the old school mentality and people DO NOT LIKE IT. The B.O.D. has NO MONEY...the school has no money!

Nothing will change unless the Endowment Fund opens its coffers up , and a formal structure for reviews and personnel files are put into place. This includes all personnel, from support staff, teachers, coaches.

I do believe the parent base coaching needs to be thrown out the door. They do play their kids, and last year was a big eye opener when their kids were benched and other kids got to play who were better and had no last name. Unfortunately, we are back to parent coaches again in higher grades...ridiculous. CCAB has enough money to hire coaches so this does not happen.

Speaking of The Endowment Committee they really needs to be looked at to help out the school. This is a money issue and they have plenty of it. After the last few years they should allow all kids returning to go for free for at least 1 year if not 2 to make up for what has happened to them over the last 2-3 years. The kids are absolutely a mess and a wreck in the middle grades and many have already enrolled in other schools. You will not have that football team or swim team pretty soon, or a high school for sure. So before everyone throws the BOD under the bus, make sure to really look hard at who walks around that school and where the money is. Who really runs that school? ...well money talks!

OSUAV8TER

I don't meant to be mean, but that is such an idiotic idea! Deplete the endowment fund!? That is a sure pathway to close the school. If you ever took a finance 101 class, you would know that growing a perpetuity is the only way to get more money out through interest. Unless you want to kill the thing. Your idea is terrible, and has no merit!

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