- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

MORELAND, Idaho (AP) - A popular eastern Idaho teacher who fought successfully to hold onto her job last spring now appears to have lost it and is considering her options, her attorney said.

Snake River High School science teacher Elaine Asmus kept her job last spring after former students rallied to her defense when the Snake River School District’s Board of Trustees considered not renewing her contract.

Her attorney, Paul Stark, said Asmus had a disagreement with Laura Gabrylczyk, the wife of district Superintendent Mark Gabrylczyk. He said Laura Gabrylczyk filed a formal complaint that led to the decision not to renew Asmus’ contract.

The district changed course after packed public hearings that lasted 14 hours.

But Stark tells the Idaho State Journal (https://bit.ly/1mpAn4m) in a story on Thursday that the contract the district offered Asmus contains “vindictive and punitive language.” The district deemed the position vacant when Asmus didn’t sign it.

“(It’s not that she was) unwilling to sign a contract, there were important things that needed to be talked about and the school district didn’t give her the time of day,” Stark said.

He said terms of a contract are important because teachers can lose their certificate if they fail to meet the terms.

The board last spring opted to renew Asmus’ contract but also said that she had violated the Idaho Code of Professional Ethics for Professional Educators. The board said she could keep her job but would be placed on probation.

Stark said the probation period was for a year rather than the eight weeks usually required. He also said that the terms require she write weekly reports detailing her interactions with others. Stark said that would leave her little time to complete her job as a teacher.

“That’s outside of the realm of normal,” Stark said.

Stark said she took her concerns to Principal Ed Jackson, but he told her to talk to the school board. It took three weeks before she could meet with the board, Stark said, and was told she had to file a grievance.

When she did that, Stark said she was told the grievance wasn’t filed within the five-day time period required. The board also said she hadn’t met other requirements and, because she never signed the contract, the probation plan was no longer necessary.

“The concerns you express regarding the Probation Plan appear to be moot, by virtue of your failure to execute a teacher’s contract for the 2014/2015 school year,” the school board wrote her. “Inasmuch as your position is now automatically deemed vacant as provided by Board resolution adopted on June 23, 2014, you will not be employed for such school year.”

Stark said Asmus’ efforts to address the contract terms were hindered by school officials.

“(There is a) pattern of unwillingness to sit down and work together on finding a solution,” Stark said. “All we want is a fair chance. (Asmus) is beyond dispute one of Idaho’s best teachers and she deserves better than the bureaucratic runaround.”

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Information from: Idaho State Journal, https://www.journalnet.com

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