- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (AP) - The possible dismissal of a longtime biology teacher at Snake River High School in eastern Idaho has some former students rallying to her defense ahead of a public hearing.

The Snake River School District’s Board of Trustees plans to hold a hearing Friday to make a final decision concerning Elaine Asmus‘ contract for next school year. Officials previously opted not to renew the contract, but the due process hearing is required as part of the process.

Her attorney, Paul Stark, said Asmus had a disagreement with teacher Laura Gabrylczyk, the wife of district Superintendent Mark Gabrylczyk. He said Laura Gabrylczyk, a science teacher at Snake River Junior High School, filed a formal complaint that led to the decision not to renew Asmus‘ contract.

Elaine and myself have some real questions about how you can end a career of someone who has taught at the same district for 28 years over an argument,” Stark said. “I’m concerned about how this has escalated.”

District officials declined to comment. A message left for Laura Gabrylczyk by The Associated Press on Thursday wasn’t returned.

Nathan Hammond took Asmus‘ Advanced Placement biology class nearly 20 years ago and is using social networking to tell other former students about Asmus‘ possible dismissal.

“I honestly didn’t have much interest in biology before,” Hammond said. “But she just presented it in a way that made it so interesting. That interest has stuck with me over the years, and (what I do now) is largely because of that interest in biology starting from her class.”

Hammond works in genetics research at Stanford University. He has a master’s in biomedical engineering from Purdue University and a doctorate in biomechanics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Another former student, Becky Ann Baker, said she received personal guidance from Asmus during difficult times in high school. She went on to attend the University of Southern California and continues to live there.

“Living in a small community, you think, ‘I’ll stay here forever,’” Baker said. “But she was one of the teachers who made me think, ‘Hey, maybe there’s a world outside this world, and maybe I can be a part of it.’ She was a believer that you could do things, and it was contagious.”

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