Eastside Catholic resumes school, protesting students will be disciplined

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 7:13 AM

SAMMAMMISH -- Letters sent to Eastside Catholic High School parents and faculty indicate if there are any campus protests over former Vice Principal Mark Zmuda when school resumes Monday, those students will be sent home.

Sunday, administrators met with faculty to discuss the issue, according to a school spokesperson.  Monday, parents will have the same opporunity.

The controversy stems from a decision on December 20th to remove Zmuda from his position.  Over the summer, he married another man, which is against Catholic teachings and therefore, against the Sammammish Catholic school.

No faculty would comment on the evening meeting Sunday, but spokesperson Mike Patterson did say, "we're not changing our position," adding the school was expressing its own First Amendment rights.

The letter to faculty concluded, "may we leave behind any obstacles that divide or disintegrate while we seek the pure, the new -- the faith-filled EC community".

Parents were informed of a new "Effecting Change" workshop, for students to voice concerns on the Catholic Church and its future.  At the same time, they were told if their child protests Zmuda's departure, they will be sent home.

Also Sunday, a longer version of an interview Zmuda did with an Eastside Catholic student was released online.  Catrina Crittenden, a14-year-old freshman, conducted the discussion several weeks ago.

Zmuda explained his range of emotions after learning he was losing his job, ranging from sadness to anger, saying, "After that, I got mad."

Sitting next to his husband, Zmuda addressed an issue first reported by KING 5 last Sunday; that School President Sister Mary Tracy told him if he got a divorce, he could keep his job.

"Apparently, the fact that I have a same-sex partner, they're against that," Zmuda told Crittenden "But I also thought a teaching they were against was divorce."

School officials again confirmed the conversation Sunday, indicating it came out of frustration and was not necessarily meant to be taken seriously.

As for how this controversy started, Patterson and another source tell KING 5 it originated from an innocent question over hiring a florist. 

One of the Eastside Catholic teachers was getting married, and asked others for floral suggestions.  When Zmuda voiced his opinion and mentioned his own gay wedding, his days at the school were numbered.

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