Catholic Church has school's back on firing

Sandusky Central Catholic School's forced resignation gains national attention, outraged alumnus creates blog to follow story.
Alissa Widman Neese
Jan 13, 2014

The Catholic Church broke tradition Monday, releasing an official statement in support of a band and choir director's recent departure from Sandusky Central Catholic School.

Meanwhile, a group of outraged alumni are assembling on a blog and social media, expressing support and aiming to springboard the story to national media outlets.

Brian Panetta, who was in his fifth year of employment with Sandusky Central Catholic School, was forced to resign this past week after announcing plans to pursue a gay marriage next year.

He initially received an unsigned letter of termination indicating he was fired, but school officials and representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo, which oversees the school, later agreed he could resign.

Click here for all Register coverage of this story.

Panetta, who identifies as Catholic, plans to marry his fiancé in July 2015.

A newly created blog,, is advocating for Panetta's rehire. It also links to a petition, which netted more than 200 signatures and supportive comments in its first day.

"Everyone loved him, even people who aren't in favor of gay marriage, because they loved him as a person and a teacher," said alumnus Fred Staffeld, who is managing the new blog from Washington D.C. "We're outraged by the hypocrisy. Instead of firing others who are breaking rules, they only fired somebody who was just upfront and honest about who he is."

Staffeld graduated from St. Mary Central Catholic High School in 1982, during what he calls the "glory days" of band, when John Kustec, now a Perkins Schools employee, was his director.

Panetta reminded Staffeld of a young Kustec, because he ignited passion in his students and more than doubled the once dwindling band's size.

When Staffeld received mixed messages about who was responsible for Panetta's abrupt resignation, and later learned the truth, he felt inspired to take action, he said.

"I've received some angry messages about creating a circus of this," Staffeld said. "If this school didn't want a circus, it shouldn't have discriminated in 2014. It's going to create a firestorm."

The story has since picked up national attention, most recently being featured on and LGBTQ Nation, two of the world's largest websites for gay rights news.

Panetta issued a public statement about the matter Friday, which permitted the Catholic Diocese of Toledo to respond today, according to its statement. The diocese typically doesn't comment on personnel matters, in order to protect individuals, it said.

"In light of the Church's clear teaching on sacred marriage and the fact that Mr. Panetta himself has publicly indicated his marriage plans are contrary to Church teachings and are the issue at the heart of this matter, the leadership of Sandusky Central Catholic School properly determined that his employment could not continue," the diocese stated. 

"When Sandusky Central Catholic School informed the diocese of the situation, the diocese fully concurred it was the correct decision and in keeping with the terms of his teacher-minister contract," it concluded.

Click here to read the full statement.

The statement offers little, if any, new insight, as the diocese's spokeswoman offered a brief comment this past week, in which she also stated Panetta's forced resignation was a "local decision," and the diocese only offered consultation.

All Sandusky Central Catholic School employees sign a contract stating they will live a lifestyle according to the Catholic faith.

After he became engaged on Christmas Day, Panetta told school principal Melody Curtis about his wedding plans, anticipating the pair would agree an end-of-the-year resignation would be the most appropriate way to ensure no conflicts resulted. He received his letter of termination later that night.

His five-year relationship with his now-fiancé, Nathan David, was not a secret, as David often attended school events and met several students and their families, Panetta said.

Panetta has no plans to take any legal action against Sandusky Central Catholic School.

He cares deeply for the school, its faculty and its students, and only wants to perpetuate the truth about why he can no longer teach them, he said.

He is currently a graduate student at Bowling Green State University. He plans to graduate in May and seek employment elsewhere, possibly near his hometown in North Carolina, or David's hometown in Illinois.

Sandusky Central Catholic School issued a news release this past week about the matter, simply stating Panetta had resigned. It also provided a link to Panetta's statement, in which he called himself a "proud and gay Catholic."


Other Catholic school firings circulate in national media

Sandusky Central Catholic School's forced resignation of its gay band and choir director addresses a hot-button issue constantly circulating in national media.

On Friday, the same day Panetta issued a statement about his resignation, Michael Griffin, a gay teacher at a Catholic school in Pennsylvania, was fired after filing for a marriage license with his partner. 

The pair had a civil union and the teacher wore a ring, and as with Panetta, school administrators knew he was gay. 

Their relationship didn't become a problem until Griffin emailed school administrators about his marriage license, which they interpreted as a public statement.

Earlier this month, Mark Zmuda, a gay vice principal in Washington, was also fired for marrying his partner. School officials suggested Zmuda get a divorce to keep his job, but he rejected the idea, he said.

Students have rallied in support of Zmuda and actively protested his departure, staging a sit-in and then walking out in solidarity, effectively shutting down their school. They have also rallied a social media campaign and crafted an online petition with now more than 32,000 signatures.

The most prominent firing case in Ohio involved a Catholic school in Columbus, whose officials fired lesbian teacher Carla Hale for listing her female partner in her mother's obituary in The Columbus Dispatch this past year.



Thank God for the few Christians that seem to be left who really care what God has to say.

The SR should just change the title of this saga to: “St. Mary’s follows the tenets of their religion”. Of course, Matt would have to be unbiased for that to happen…

This is another example of people using the media to try and drum up public sentiments that the Catholic Church is anti-gay.

In short, it's time for homosexual activists to get off their high horses. You do not have a right to demand that a religious institution respect it, consider it "normal" or sanction it.

Their never-ending pressuring of society to give up religious faith, merely exposes them as preachy, intolerant and hypocritical extremists.

These “outraged alumnus” have been deceived, as well as whoever else would support this. It's not real love to accept someone who's more attached to this perversion than to God. God is opposed to this abomination. Period

Satan and his followers, acting out of hatred for God, battle to remove Christianity from this country. Their new state religion called “Political Correctness”, has outlawed God and morals. We are witnessing the further erosion of our societal fabric caused by this new religion and the penchant for claiming victimization.

I can show you where it says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."

Unfortunately this new state religion is beginning to take away our true Constitutional rights of freedom of worship and the freedom of speech.


The problem with your God is that a faith-based, invisible deity looks exactly the same as "nothing is there".

I once read that George W. Bush said God talked to him each day. If he said that God talked to him through his hair dryer, we would say that he was insane. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer to the story makes any difference.


Don't worry freethinker- you'll have your chance to talk to Him face to face- count on it.

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Heb. 10:31

"For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God's household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God's Good News?" 1 Peter 4:17


So, so pretentious, and circular logic...


This mom is blessed; I just want to add her story. She has been unemployed for months but now receiving money in her spare time on laptop. She basically makes $6000-$8000 a month online. Check out here


Its just like talking to your friend. Its not weird to talk to your friend, but if yu talk to your friend through a hair drier (which would be kinda odd!) would make a huge difference. The thing is, is that he DIDN'T talk to him through a hair drier.
and P.S.: *Our God


Its just like talking to your friend. Its not weird to talk to your friend, but if yu talk to your friend through a hair drier (which would be kinda odd!) would make a huge difference. The thing is, is that he DIDN'T talk to him through a hair drier.
and P.S.: *Our God


@thinkagain, you bring up a good point, because I have been wondering if God did have a say.

If indeed, St. Mary's knew for over four years that Mr. Panetta was gay. And if he was as good as they say and loved by the students and parish, as everyone seems to agree.

Why didn't the school and church organize a prayer chain, and ask God to "PRAY THE GAY AWAY" ? With over 1,000 people from Sandusky prayed for four years, to God that Brian would be straight so he could stay at St. Mary's , would God hear that?

I would think in four years time with the church and school families all praying to make Brian "normal", they would have had ample prayers to make it happen. If this is Gods way, why wouldn't it work?

Just think, this would be a win, win for all involved! The kids could keep their teacher, and it would be a wonderful lesson to show the powers of God!

Then after God made Mr. Panetta "normal" , he could marry a nice hometown, Catholic girl and settle down, have children, and everyone would live happily ever after!

If everyone knew he was gay, why didn't they at least offer him some counselling to cure his "sin"? It just doesn't seem Christian like that all those years in such a loving close knit church, no one offered this obviously "confused" boy some guidance.


“St. Mary’s follows the tenets of their religion”.

But they do NOT. They pick and choose. THAT is the issue here.

yea right

and let the war go on and on..good thing ALL churches now adays are nothing more then money hungry evil devil worshiping places called HELL ON EARTH..God does NOT enter any church cuz of this..
when you ppl start JUDGING you do on here..then you are nothing more the a cult..and devil worshipers

There you go again



no one including the catholic church knows what god has to say or even if he exists. the bible is not his words. the beliefs are not his. it is all a blatant cover up that the masses have believed out of fear for way too long. if you want to buy into it that's your problem but we should not let religion dictate who gets to keep a job and who doesn't. and you believe in satan too? give me a break!

From the Grave

thinkagain~How dare you project your foolish, judgmental, close minded, and uncompassionate human qualities on God. God created you in HIS image, not the other way around. Or, is it the other way around...

John Harville

Wow! God speaks directly to you and you speak for God to all of us? What a weighty burden

CONGRESS shall make no law...
"...this new state religion...." is exactly what is envisioned by the First Amendment, jackasp

" exercise thereof..." means the SCCC cannot accept any federal funding (including free and reduced lunch or other such subsidies), grants, tax exemptions; cannot pay FICA tax nor contribute to the Medicare tax, nor participate in the Diocesan pension plans which are invested in PUBLIC monies.

From the Grave

I hear you John, but let me just tell you that congress will ultimately do whatever they want to, because they know that the vast majority of the people in this country are happy with McDonald's for dinner, and Bud Light for dessert.




OK, enough already!!! SR you are playing this way too much! He signed a contract, he broke the contract enough said!! Why do you have to constantly throw this out there?!! St. Mary's has the right to do this! I'm sure if he is as good as a band leader as everyone says he is, he will get a job somewhere else!! From the sounds of it, he knew this was going to happen.....time to move on to another news story!!


Agree...I'm so over this.
He accepted his resignation, but the liberal media can't.


Personally, I"m tired of the Catholic Church pretending they have any moral ground on anything. Discriminatory practices always end - eventually - because those with a sense of empathy speak out.

Why is it, I ask, that conservatives are always on the wrong side when it comes to any social change? From civil rights, to safety nets for the poor and elderly, to equal rights for women, and now equal rights for the LGBT community, Republicans always oppose things that help other people gain equal opportunity.

I find it highly amusing/ironic that they attempt to play the morality card, when it's rather obvious that they don't have any morals. In that respect, the church and conservatives have a lot in common....


I find it highly ironic that a democrat would attempt to play the morality card, DOMA, Look it up.

Jaidstar's the Church's right to remain unchanging in it's doctrine. "Social change" is not a requirement of the Church. Those who can deal with it's teachings, do. Those who cannot, are free to move on to deal with whatever consequences they deem worth the decision.

Alternate denominations abound...feel free to debut your own church of "Whatever Feels Good" ...or whatever.

...judging by many of the comments's sure to be standing room only...

John Harville

The Unchanging Church:
Protestants burned at the stake for reading the Bible.
Women must keep their heads covered in Church.
Communion railing/gate locked.
Commuion railing (generally intended to keep the 'unwashed' - especially women - off the sacred altar).
Altar at back of Church and Priest never faces congregation.
Congregation can't sing.
Only songs must be Bible verses put to music.
Women only allowed on altar Saturday mornings - to clean.
Latin Mass.
Limbo for babies who die without baptism.
Indulgences (now disguised in other forms)
Rhythm method.
The Inquisition.
Euthanasia is not allowed - but administering painkillers ONLY with the intent to alleviate pain while fully rising such administration will shorten natural life is acceptable.
In-vitro children have no souls (a current teaching by many priests - and the Church opposes it because those children are 'not conceived of the love of two parents).
Girls cannot be altar servers.
Only the priest can touch the Host.
No Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.

Many of the 'unchanging doctrines' I have listed here have been changed by persons unwilling to 'move on'.


"Euthanasia" Something John Harville feels strongly about and would like to institute it seems. Thank God and the constitution you people never get a free hand in society.

John Harville

Where do you get I favor or don't euthanasia.
The point, asp, is that the Church offers alternatives and explanations to its hard and fast rules.
The point, asp, is that the Church already has 'instituted' it but under a different explanation differentiating the 'intent'. The Church always can find a way around any 'rule'. Case in point: pedophile priests.


Euthanasia stuck out because you singled it out as one thing the church does not allow. You do not like church policy, Hence the logic of you being FOR euthanasia. That and you are a progressive. I do not defend the church as I do not attack it either.

John Harville

As in other things, the Church 'allows' euthanasia as long as it is 'couched' in other language.

The SCCS contract does not say one cannot use birth control, participate in in-vitro or surrogacy, defend abortion... be homosexual, live with another person - only that it may not be done publicly.
Melody Curtis certainly has 'gone public' with the church's stand on this issue even though the teacher did not make the engagement issue public.
I hope she plans to stay at SCCS until retirement for she will never get even a janitor's job anywhere else.
Wondering - what are her sons suffering because of her actions?


I like all rights for all people, Its in the Constitution. I do not believe any one should dictate moral laws upon others in the US. That aside the guy signed a contract. As misguided as the contract is it is still a binding one.
As for the Euthanasia issue, Taking another's life because of some opinion or another is wrong. If you look back on the history of it, It has always been a bad policy if for nothing else it is immoral to take another's life because the majority believes it will be a useless life. The progressives tried to and did institute it for some time, Much to our nations shame. Remember if you give the government the power you cannot complain when it is used against you.

John Harville

"...all rights for all people, its in the Constitution..."
Lessee... an African-American was counted as 3/5 of a person in the Constitution.
Women did not have status or vote in the Constitution.
Senators were elected by state legislatures, not the people in the Constitution.
Shall I stop now, or go on making you look MORE uninformed.

And what happens if a person, claiming euthanasia is a religion, chooses to end his/her suffering to get on to meeting Jesus? CONGRESS shall make no law .... religion nor abridging practice thereof...
But you don't understand the difference between sins of commission and sins of omission, do you?
A 'misguided contract' is not binding. If you sign a contract as a medical professional which states you will not object to assisting in euthanasia (which as you stated is against the law) - and you refuse and are fired shall we say "he signed the contract" and that it is "binding"?
One more thing... what DID Mr. Panetta do that violated that portion of the contract?


It has yet evolved to where it is today. That is unless you have the power to take away the rights citizens once had.
Wanna steralize anyone lately?
Progessives need held for unamerican acts, Freaking progressive.

John Harville

"It has yet evolved to where it is today."

My point. And The Constitution continues to evolve and eventually will evolve - as will the states - to allow individual Americans self-realization. Some day individuals will be allowed to marry - or not marry - whom they wish... or even adopt children without being married.
Oh. But those rights already exist "that is unless you have the power to take away the rights...."
By the way... what bearing does your sentence about "take away the rights citizens once had..." have to do with my list of laws once in the Constitution that denied rights to entire segments of the country?
Just admit you've lost this entire argument and try to move on.