Changing your child’s high school mid-year is a decision most parents don’t take lightly. Pros and cons are weighed. A child’s propensity for change is weighed. Sometimes certain factors make that decision slightly easier.
That was the case for Brian and Christen Jeans of Snoqualmie when it came to transitioning their 9th grade son from Sammamish’s Eastside Catholic School back to the Snoqualmie Valley School District in the wake of Eastside’s firing of Vice Principal Mark Zmuda over his same-sex marriage; something the school said violated his contract stating staff members will follow Catholic Church teachings.
Zmuda, who is gay, was married in July 2013, seven months after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington. The Catholic Church teaches and believes marriage is between one man and one woman.
The Jeans’ started their son, Hayden, at Eastside Catholic (EC) in 6th grade after he attended Cascade View Elementary School. Brian and his sister both attended EC and had wonderful experiences. The Jeans’ also had friends with kids at the private catholic school who raved about it.
Christen said Hayden really enjoyed Eastside Catholic, making friends quickly; playing multiple school sports; and liked his teachers. She said the decision to remove her son wasn’t made hastily and wasn’t easy.
After Zmuda’s firing became public in mid-December, Brian and Christen had daily discussions regarding whether to keep Hayden at Eastside Catholic, as the school’s decision differed from their personal beliefs regarding equality.
The Jeans’ aren’t Catholic and according to Christen, neither are about 50% of students enrolled at EC. She and Brian were “extremely disappointed with the school’s choice to end Mr. Zmuda’s employment.” But even that disappointment wasn’t what drove them to change schools.
Christen said their decision became clear after the January 23rd Eastside Catholic Board of Trustees meeting where the co-presidents stated they “absolutely” supported former school president, Sister Mary Tracy’s, decision to fire Mark Zmuda.
It was then that the Jeans’ say they realized that since they are not Catholic, Eastside Catholic was not the right place for their family. Brian and Christen say they knew they needed to stand up for what they believed in – and wanted their kids to see what it looked like to do that.
Christen admits that it’s stressful – the act of standing up for your beliefs – especially when others don’t agree with your decision. But they still moved forward. They weighed everything – and consulted their son about changing schools mid-year.
Ultimately, Christen explained, they did what was best for their family. She also said it helped knowing that both her’s and Brian’s parents, along with their sisters, agreed with the decision that it was best to move Hayden to Mount Si High School.
So they’re back. Christen said Hayden is adjusting well after his first two weeks back in the Snoqualmie Valley School District. She said she is impressed with the teachers and classes at the Freshman Campus – and Hayden is especially enjoying his engineering course.
** The Eastside Catholic website says approximately 38% of students are not Catholic.