Board terminates Kirsch; names athletic fields
The year-end Board of Education meeting held June 13 was eventful with the Board terminating the employment of Dr. Kim Kirsch, former assistant superintendent for human resources, naming the high school athletic fields, and considering the elimination of class rank.
Acting on the June 12, 2017 decision imposed by the state hearing officer, John T. Trela, the Board voted unanimously to terminate Dr. Kirsch from her position. The decision follows nearly a two-and-a-half year legal battle between Kirsch and the district, Board of Education, and Superintendent Scott Martzloff. According to the hearing officer’s summation, the decision was “based on a preponderance of the substantial and convincing proof and evidence in the record” against Kirsch, saying that the District had proven its case against her and ordering termination of her employment.
In a brief statement, Dr. Martzloff said, “It is my fervent desire that this strongly worded decision will close the matter on issues identified by the hearing officer as frivolous and that as a school community we can continue to keep our focus where it belongs, on the wonderful students and families of our district.”
During Committee of the Whole, outgoing board member Michael J. Schmidt proposed naming the new Williamsville East field after longtime athletic director, Dr. James Rusin, who died in January 2013, and the new Williamsville South field after retiring athletic director Kevin Lester. He also proposed naming the Williamsville North field after Dr. Martzloff who helped spearhead the project. Dr. Martzloff thanked Mr. Schmidt but declined the nomination. “I don’t belong in that list,” he said. “I haven’t been here nearly long enough, done nearly enough to deserve even consideration let alone having something named for me.” The motion to name the fields was passed by the Board, 5-3.
A presentation on whether or not to eliminate high school class rank was discussed. Assistant Superintendents Dr. Marie Balen and Dr. Anna Cieri, and school counselors from each of the high schools provided an overview of past and current practice, as well as results from a survey conducted last June. According to Dr. Cieri, 1,770 students (high school and eighth graders) and 813 parents, as well as high school staff members responded to an online survey in June 2016. The overwhelming percentage of respondents supported eliminating class rank. Meanwhile, research presented shows that almost 60 percent of high schools across America do not rank their students and that the importance of class rank as a factor in the college admission decision process has declined over the past decade. Survey respondents who want to retain class rank cited motivation and scholarships as their top reasons. The Board is expected to consider eliminating class rank in the near future.
The Board granted tenure to 16 certified staff members and paused the meeting to hold a short reception in their honor. In addition, Jason Lehmbeck was appointed as the new assistant principal at Williamsville North High School. Mr. Lehmbeck has been an assistant principal at Fairport High School outside of Rochester for the past two years and was previously a high school PE/Health teacher in Fairport CSD for 18 years. His appointment is effective July 10, 2017.