Elkhart elementary teacher fired over inappropriate comments
Posted: 04/25/2012 at 4:21 pm
By: Marlys Weaver-Stoesz
Stephen Hentsch had been an art teacher at Central High School from 1997 until last summer, when he became the art teacher at Woodland and Mary Feeser elementary schools, according to Douglas Thorne, Elkhart Community School’s director of employee and student relations.
“The essence of the situation is Mr. Hentsch had been repeatedly counseled by administrators that he was to teach the curriculum and comply with the board’s policy regarding the presentation of controversial topics,” he said. That policy requires teachers to remain neutral when controversial topics do come up in the classroom and to present balanced information from all sides of those issues.
Hentsch continued to make comments to students and classes about controversial subjects, Thorne said.
Administrators can not disclose what Hentsch’s comments were about, but Thorne said that they spanned his time at Central and the elementary schools and that the content is irrelevant.
“Whether it’s politics, whether it’s religion, whether it’s sex, whether it’s ethnicity, whether it’s international relationships, our expectation of our teachers is to teach the curriculum, not express their personal opinions during class time,” Thorne said.
In legal terms, Hentsch was dismissed from his position for insubordination, neglect of duty and other good and just cause, Thorne said.
Hentsch had been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 3, Thorne said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board accepted the recommendation from Superintendent Mark Mow and canceled Hentsch’s teacher’s contract.