Cadence – SFSD fires band director for insubordination

September 2022 Posted in News, School

By Stephen Floyd

The Band Director of the Silver Falls School District has been fired for allegedly defying district leadership, though few details of what transpired have been made public.

During a special meeting of the School Board on Aug. 9, the contract of Frank Petrik was terminated on the grounds of insubordination and neglect of duty, effective that day, based on a recommendation by Superintendent Scott Drue.

Board members met in executive session for four hours before voting to fire Petrik 6-1. The lone dissenter was Board Member Lori McLaughlin, who said she had hoped parties involved would reach a compromise.

Petrik had been band director since 2014 after holding similar positions with school districts in Sherwood, Mount Angel and Portland since 1999. He also coached soccer and helped found Silverton Friends of Music in 2016, a booster club for the district’s music program.

Petrik was also involved in union leadership and since 2018 had been vice president of the Silver Falls Education Association (SFED), a role now filled by English language development teacher Lori Wyer.

SFSD was approached for comment on Petrik’s dismissal but President Alison Stolfus said they were unavailable to provide a statement by press time.

District spokesperson Derek McElfresh said SFSD could not comment on the grounds for Petrik’s dismissal as they were not at liberty to discuss personnel matters. However, he did say a substitute band director will lead the program until the position can be filled long-term.

“We were fortunate to have an experienced band director substitute to give our students a great experience,” said McElfresh. “We will of course have band this year, and are in the process of identifying a long-term teacher for that program.”

The grounds for Petrik’s dismissal were not discussed during the public portion of the Aug. 9 meeting, however several board members expressed their thoughts on the decision itself.

Board Member Tom Buchholz said the executive session was a “long and wide-ranging, thoughtful discussion,” while Board Member Jonathan Edmonds said allegations against Petrik were complex with “a lot of different pieces and aspects.” 

Board Vice-Chair Aaron Koch said considering whether or not to terminate Petrik was “a horribly hard decision,” but justified by the evidence.

“For me the facts are there, and ultimately it comes back to what’s best for our students in this district,” said Koch.

Board Chair Jennifer Treager agreed that the facts spoke for themselves and Drue’s recommendation should be followed.

“This is hard, and I’ve taken it really seriously,” said Treager. “… I believe that dismissal on those two grounds – insubordination and neglect of duty – are justified by the evidence presented.”

Only McLaughlin was not convinced during executive session and believed there were still opportunities to resolve the dispute amicably.

“Given everything that education has been through, nothing would make me happier than to see both sides work this out,” she said. “And I mean that sincerely.”

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