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

Holding Court

Very true-

-OSU Buckeye.

Another Day, why would Mrs. Curtis bring her family to Sandusky for one year? A former board member shared with me that she was instructed (by the board) to focus ONLY on her responsibilities. She chose not to do that. From what I was told, the board, administration , faculty, and staff didn't run her out. Her micromanaging did. Mrs. Curtis made some wonderful, much needed exterior improvements.

Karma2u

OSU correction: She did not bring her family, she left her boys in her old house in Rossford to fend for themseleves. She is a micromanaging control freak with a destructive pattern.

-OSU Buckeye.

Another Day, why would Mrs. Curtis bring her family to Sandusky for one year? A former board member shared with me that she was instructed (by the board) to focus ONLY on her responsibilities. She chose not to do that. From what I was told, the board, administration , faculty, and staff didn't run her out. Her micromanaging did. Having said that, Mrs. Curtis made some wonderful, much needed exterior improvements.

Tigress

It would have been nice to fix the interior I.e. Quality of education, evaluation of internal problems, etc. first and then worry about external beautification! I did hear the same thing about M. C. trying to micro-manage the high school principal, the elementary principal , the teachers, etc. causing chaos for everyone!

sugar

Bottom line is that some instructors, parents and students have been mistreated, and hurt enough to hold some deep seated resentments against SMCC. Unless this is dealt with I don't see how the school survives.

Dcfred20036

Sugar, excellent point. I think the parish priests need to do their jobs and create an environment of healing and reconciliation. The survival of the school is more important than these so called prominent people everyone keeps talking about. Just because you are prominent and have money does not mean that your agenda is in the best interest of the school. I think that when you have Denny Faber speaking publicly, with such hurt, is exhibit No 1 that something has gone terribly wrong with the school. Stop the madness. I would recommend to everyone affected to read the prayer of St. Francis.

Apples don't fa...

1st thing in saving this school is to clean house with the B.O.D! I would say that is a very good start.

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