Update: SFSD settles with former band director

November 2022 Posted in News, School

By Stephen Floyd

The Silver Falls School District (SFSD) has agreed to pay $57,500 to settle a legal dispute with former Band Director Frank Petrik after his teaching contract was terminated in August for alleged insubordination.

On Oct. 24, the district board unanimously approved a settlement agreement between SFSD, Petrik and the Silver Falls Education Association (SFEA).

In addition to the financial settlement, the board agreed to treat Petrik’s departure from the district as a resignation rather than a dismissal. In exchange, Petrik and SFEA agreed to release the district from all current or future claims related to Petrik, and agreed he was not entitled to a position within the district.

Neither SFSD nor SFEA commented on the settlement outside the language in the agreement. The settlement did say the district was not admitting any wrongdoing by entering into the agreement. Neither the district nor the teacher’s union have publicly detailed the events that led to Petrik’s dismissal, and the settlement agreement also did not specify the nature of allegations against Petrik.

Petrik’s teaching contract was terminated by the board Aug. 9 after Superintendent Scott Drue recommended firing Petrik for “insubordination and neglect of duty.” The board met in executive session for four hours to discuss the claims, then voted 6-1 to terminate his contract, with dissent from board member Lori McLaughlin.

On Oct. 24, board member Jonathan Edmonds said he still believes the district had justifiable grounds to dismiss Petrik.

“That conversation that occurred compelled me to vote the way I did and I stand by that vote,” Edmonds said.

McLaughlin said she still believed it was appropriate to continue pursuing a compromise, and she was glad it was over as parties on both sides “gave so much of themselves.”

Board member Owen Von Flue said the settlement prevents expenditures of time, effort and money, and represents an opportunity to put the matter to rest.

“I hope for all the parties that we just move on, onto better and different things,” Von Flue said.

Assistant Superintendent Dan Busch said, prior to the settlement, the district had incurred around $19,000 in legal fees while disputing Petrik’s grievances, a process he said began last December. Busch estimated that if the district had pursued the matter to a dismissal in its favor, legal fees would still have been comparable to the financial settlement with Petrik.

He noted the district would be personally responsible for $22,500, as the remaining $35,000 would be paid by the district’s insurance pool, PACE (Property and Casualty Coverage for Education).

Busch also said the settlement avoided unnecessary stress and effort for anyone who may have been called as a witness.

Petrik joined SFSD as band director in 2014 and revived the district’s marching band program that year. He helped found the Silverton Friends of Music booster club in 2016. Petrik was also vice president of SFEA from 2018.

According to LinkedIn, Petrik is now band director at Ron Russell Middle School in the David Douglas School District in Portland. Silver Falls High School music teacher Tim Duffy is now band director.

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