Ouster sparks community support

Man forced to resign after announcing gay wedding plans.
Alissa Widman Neese
Jan 12, 2014
Area residents flocked to social media Saturday to voice opinions on the forced resignation of a local school’s band and choir director, an act prompted by his plans to pursue a gay wedding with his partner next year.

A majority of comments on the Register’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed appeared to be in support of Brian Panetta, an esteemed director who was forced to resign this week during his fifth year of employment at Sandusky Central Catholic School.

Comments also sparked several heated debates about Catholicism and gay marriage.

Click HERE for the original story

Many readers speculated Panetta could take legal action against the school regarding the situation.

But when contacted Saturday, Panetta made it clear he will not pursue any legal action against Sandusky Central Catholic School, for “numerous reasons.”

“First and foremost, I care deeply for the school, its faculty and especially the students,” Panetta said. “Secondly, I just want the truth to be understood and for there to be no confusion as to why I can no longer continue my work at SCCS. This is a teachable moment and I am a teacher above all else.”    

On Jan. 3, Panetta told Sandusky Central Catholic School president Melody Curtis that he and his partner were engaged to be married. Panetta told Curtis an end-of-the-year resignation might be the most appropriate way to ensure no conflicts occurred regarding his gay marriage, he said.

All school employees must sign a contract stating they will live a lifestyle according to the Catholic faith, Panetta said.

He received an unsigned letter of termination just hours after the discussion, stating he violated the contract and the church’s teachings.

Almost a week later, however, an agreement between school administrators and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo allowed him to resign instead, reversing the initial decision to fire him.

The Register first reported the story Friday night and in less than 24 hours, it netted more comments than any story posted to its website this week.

“I’m usually proud to be a Panther alumni,” said Charlene Hunscke Allen, one of the first commenters on the Register’s Facebook. “This is not one of those times.”

Many school supporters referenced Panetta’s contract, which he knowingly violated with his engagement.

In response, others addressed the complicated issue of Panetta’s contract, and questioned whether school employees violating other Catholic teachings should also be fired or forced to resign.

Panetta’s five-year relationship with Nathan David, his fiancé, wasn’t a secret to the Sandusky Central Catholic School community, as David often attended school events and met several students and their families, Panetta said.

“The contract doesn’t say, ‘you are allowed to be gay, but you’re not allowed to get engaged to the same sex,’” a commenter on the Register’s website said. “He broke the contract the minute he signed it, and they did nothing.”

Regardless of their opinions, most students and parents who knew Panetta spoke of his dedication to the school’s band and choir, which he more than doubled in size during his time at the school.

“I can speak for the entire student body that Mr. Panetta was one of the greatest teachers at that school,” Brandi Budd said on the Register’s Facebook. “It’s a shame because that school will never find a teacher that will care and love his students like he did.”

Saturday evening, 13abc Action News in Toledo aired a clip referencing the Register’s story and also linked to it on the news station’s website, where it gained significant traffic.

 

Who am I to judge?
Sandusky Central Catholic School’s decisions involving its band and choir director come at a pivotal time in the Catholic Church’s history.
 
Pope Francis, elected this past March, was quoted often in 2013 for his progressive, groundbreaking comments regarding several divisive issues, including gay marriage. His blunt message, as most theologians interpret it: Catholics should spend less time arguing about these issues, and more time loving others.
 
In July, when asked how he would respond if he learned a cleric in his ranks was gay, Francis responded, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?”
 
“You can’t marginalize these people,” he said.
 
In September, Francis spoke of the Catholic Church’s need to make the church a more welcoming place for all, specifically by placing less emphasis on its “small-minded rules” about abortion, gays and contraception, according to an Associated Press article.
 
During the statement, he said it is “not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” and asserted the need to emphasize compassion and mercy over condemnation. “The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all,” Francis said.
 
Section 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states homosexual acts are contrary to natural law, because they do not allow the creation of life, and cannot be approved under any circumstances.
 
Sections 2358 and 2359 state individuals with homosexual tendencies are called to chastity, and must be “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” because of their inclination, which is “objectively disordered” and “constitutes for most of them a trial.”
 
“Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” section 2358 states.

Comments

THEHARDTRUTH

Way to hold him accountable! What are we teaching the students if we allow this? Break the rules and no consequences. Gay or not, rules are rules.

rbenn

He signed a contract he broke the contract, nothing to see here

deertracker

If he wanted to be involved with the Catholic religion as a gay man he should've became a priest!

KnuckleDragger

Amen to that!!!

ladydye_5

The best question of the day is how many other administration/employees are breaking the rules with divorce or other "non-Catholic teaching" violations? They should be sure to enforce it across the board and not cherry pick certain ones, that is where you find the law suits.

KnuckleDragger

How many are violating catholic edicts by taking birth control?

mikesee

Probably half of the student body.

MBR

Which also means pre-marital sex.

seriously 1137

I think St. Mary' has every right to their opinion. They have every right to terminate employees who violate their contract. It is their beliefs and values, and employees knowingly sign that when hired.

So in all fairness, I would like every single employee who has engaged in pre-marital sex, used birth control, divorced, and committed adultery to resign immediately.

THEHARDTRUTH

Probably some but they choose to seperate personal life from work like it should be. The real question is did he know he was gay when he took the job, then we have a integrity problem.

Justme...

I am guessing most of the commenters here are not a member of this religion. So I am curious as to why you all care so much? If this happened in the public sector I could understand all the concern. Or if you were all Catholic, I could understand the concern. But as it is, I am confused by all the uproar from those outside of this church. Heck, if the person who you feel was wronged was asking for your help, I could definitely understand the concern.

MBR

Because too often religions pick and choose their "sins" and it ends up discriminating against one groups (homosexuals) and not others (sexual assault, birth control, pre-marital sex, adultery). Discrimination is a social issue, which makes it everyone's business whether they belong to said church/religion or not.

ladydye_5

I only "care" because most Catholics think they are better than others. Here is a clear case of that. They are choosing to hand pick a "sin" while ignoring others. They also had no issues with this teacher for the last 5 years being gay. He was known to be gay, everyone knew it, teachers, students, administration, and parents. BUT the minute he discussed getting married then it was a big NO-NO. I can only hope they now fire every teacher that uses birth control, had sex before marriage, and anyone that is/was divorced. We won't even mention the student body that is using birth control and sex! Guess as long as you go to mass on Sunday and confess your sins, get that Hail Mary in all will be forgiven....well, almost all is forgiven, just not homosexuality.

Dcfred20036

When I called the school last Wednesday to protest this I was told that the diocese forced them to to this and that everyone, including administrators, was upset over this. Since, I have learned that the diocese had nothing to do with this, and it was a local desicion. With this kind of leadership the school will shrink its way to extinction. What a tangled web we weave when the practice is to deceive!

rbenn

It doesn't matter who made the decision, ultimately it falls on the teacher, he signed the contract. Pretty cut and dry

Dcfred20036

The alumni members are furious on how this was handled, gay thing aside...

topcop1991

St Marys is a private school, ( end of story) Fire the #($%)(#(.

sugar

Another horrible bigot. I am Catholic, I do have students attending SCCS, I want Mr. Panetta back. Oh top cop, drop dead.

Dcfred20036

Sugar, I remember the glorious days of band when Mr Kustec was the director of the Panther band, before he left for Perkins. I sensed that same energy and passion in Brian Panetta. The students have been robbed of having a great HS band experience and have been sentenced back to a revolving door of band directors. What a shame. Memo to Perkins: hire Mr Panetta, St Mary's loss will be your gain.

Karma89

Dcfred20036, please do not speak for all Smcc alumni and former band members. He signed a contract, yes it is sad that he is no longer there. But in the real world when you break a contract you loose your job. There are kids who are still hurting from this and who continue who go to the school, your comments and wanting this to go national will only hurt the kids more! Shame on you it sounds like you are making this your cause for the week. If Mr. Panetta wants to take this further HE should be the one doing so NOT you. I think he is more than capable of taking care of himself.

Dcfred20036

Karma: I speak for myself as someone who attended the school from 1978 -1982.

gyrocartfluffikins

Boy, I bet you're a hoot at parties.

sugar

Our children deserve the best and we has it with Brian Panetta!

sugar

Karma89, you speak for yourself only also, you miss the entire point, he broke his contract the day he signed it and they not only knew it they went along happily because of his success and the love the students had for him. So what changed? An engagement? They are being hypocritical and I for one will NO LONGER stand for it.

Karma89

Sugar, read what you just wrote your saying he broke the contract the day he signed it. So your saying he was lying when he signed the contract. Until he came out and told the school he was Gay it was nothing but rumors, unless he told you personally he was gay? Or did you just assume he was? Did he introduce Nathan as a friend or his boyfriend? Or did you just assume? Just wondering...

gyrocartfluffikins

I think Perkins, Sandusky and Huron high schools all have band programs. Do you need a brochure on any of them? Is there anything else I could get you to help you make this decision?

rbenn

If he were a straight man and he got a divorce, would we be having this same conversation? I bet not.

sugar

What about the hypocrisy of the school do you do not get? Do you have critical thinking skills?

Karma89

Sugar, you never answered the question, did he ever tell you he was gay or did you just ASSUME he was? I think your the one without critical thinking skills. This is about breaking a contract and nothing more!

fiddledee

I am not even remotely homophobic. However, all businesses have codes of conduct from the way customers are greeted to outward appearance, on the job relationships etc. Churches have code of conduct from their beliefs and for leaders. If those are violated, termination should take place or the person who knows they are violating them should take the high road and resign.The young man is to be commended for his honesty and the school for its integrity and follow through. Neither side demeaned the other and apparently both knew what had to take place.

sugar

I didn't have him sign the contract, so whether he told me or not is irrelevant. If the school has their teachers sign contracts to uphold Catholic doctrine then they have to apply it consistently, therefore if they fire Mr. Panetta they must fire every other teacher who falls out of that narrow definition. That's discrimination.

sugar

And neither of you have read both articles, and neither of you have any inside knowledge.

Think9

Should there be a third bathroom for the third gender?

Karma89

We'll dcfred20036 sounds to me like you have some unresolved issues with the Catholic Church and Smcc maybe you should address them separately and not drag Mr. Panetta into to your issues. I have a question that only Mr. Panetta can answer if Smcc would offer him his job back would he take it or has he already moved onto something better? And if that's the case and as he said he has no intention to sue the school I think he has moved on and so should you.

Karma89

Sugar I have read both articles, so I guess you must have assumed he was gay by having a male friend. Umm shame on you stereotyping him....

Kottage Kat

Do priests sign a contract?

Gardenman

Today it is not easy to reach and teach kids in the classroom. Obviously this man has a tremendous ability to do that. He loved his job and the kids he taught loved him. That's the dream of every teacher in the classroom today. It's unfortunate that we have to lose this kind relationship that benefits so many of the students at SMCC.

I have no doubt he will find another position and once again give so much to the next generation it just won't be at SMCC.

Dr. Information

The liberal mindset: Fire Phil Robertson for voicing his belief on gay marriage/sex even though he didn't break any of A&E's rules, or his contract or physically hurt or threaten anyone. The libs were on here screaming for A&E had every right to fire him.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, its not fair. St. Mary's had every right to fire him. This band director violated his contract and thus was fired. Fence jumping liberals at their best.

The Answer Person

Three questions for you Dr.:
1. Will on staff lesbians also be terminated?
2. Since president Melody Curtis is new, doesn't it appear that she is the one with the homophobic issue since there was no apparently no problem with Mr. Panetta until her arrival?
3. Will all others who have knowingly and in violation signed employment contracts with St. Mary's that violate their "morals" now be investigated/terminated? Or is that "OK" because they are heterosexual? i.e. "Well, that's different."?

It is a pathetic tragedy for you that you will never know the beauty and love of being what you negatively call people, i.e. "LIBERAL"! YES!!!

Dr. Information

It totally depends on what their contract says. 1. Unless the school is to place cameras in everyone's home to see what they are doing in their bedroom life, it will be hard to go after any homosexual who is living with and in a relationship with someone of the same sex. This case is different. This man is openly announcing his planned marriage to another man, thus violating his contract. 2. Maybe Mr. Panetta turned a blind eye. Still doesn't negate the fact of contract violation. 3. The school has the right to investigate or terminate anyone and if they have enough evidence to provide. What heterosexual OKs are you referring to.

Liberals want everything their way and when they don't get it they cry foul. They have painted their own picture.

mikesee

I believe that divorce is not against the Catholic religion. Now if you get divorced and it is not annulled through the church then it would be a sin to get remarried.

OSUBuckeye59

Correct. A divorce is a legal separation. Only the Church can grant an annulment for a Catholic to then remarry within the Church.