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Published: Tuesday, 1/14/2014

Sandusky teacher ousted for engaging his partner looks to move on

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Brian Panetta, a music teacher at St. Mary Central Catholic High School in Sandusky, and his fiance, Nathan David. Brian Panetta, a music teacher at St. Mary Central Catholic High School in Sandusky, and his fiance, Nathan David.
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SANDUSKY - Brian Panetta, the former director and coordinator of Sandusky Central Catholic School's music program who was forced to resign after becoming engaged to his male partner, said in an interview today that he wants to move on with his life.

Mr. Pancetta, 27, said wants to start the next chapter of his life with the man he loves, an Internet marketing consultant named Nathan David, 25. The two met while attending the University of Dayton five years ago, and plan to marry in July, 2015. He's hoping the couple will start that new life in another city, preferably Cleveland, Chicago, or Charlotte, N.C., where the two have ties.

School officials, including Principal Melody Curtis, did not return calls seeking comment on Mr. Panetta's forced departure. Mr. Panetta said he heard today they had chosen a replacement.

"I'm not upset at any individual," Mr. Panetta said. "It's still upsetting, though."

Mr. Panetta's resignation was negotiated after he said he was presented with a letter of termination Jan. 3.

According to Mr. Panetta, who has directed the school's music program for five years, he arranged to meet Ms. Curtis that afternoon to disclose his wedding plans. He said she assured him he would be allowed to resign if it came to that. Then, that evening, the school dropped a termination letter on him without warning, he said.

During a meeting last Thursday, school officials let him resign instead of being fired.

Mr. Pancetta said he has been flattered by the support he received from students, faculty, and parents, including the creation of a blog, hirebrianback.blogspot.com, which called for his reinstatement.

The blog has an online petition, that as of tonight, had more than 500 signatures.

Sally Oberski, communications director for the Diocese of Toledo, posted the following comment on the page where the signatures have been gathered:

"What your petitions fails to mention is that Brian Panetta signed a contract when he was hired as a teacher-minister agreeing 'to act and speak in a way that supports the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings. I understand that serious actions contrary to the Church's teachings (including but not limited to publicly living together outside marriage, public support of abortion, public support or use of a surrogate, public use or support of in vitro fertilization or flagrant deceit or dishonesty) will not be tolerated.' By signing this contract 'I acknowledge that I have read and understand this contract in its entirety. I understand that any violation of any section of this contract may result in termination of this contract and employment immediately."'

The diocese also said in a prepared statement "that Mr. Panetta himself has publicly indicated his marriage plans are contrary to Church teachings and are the issue at the heart of this matter."

The statement said the diocese "fully concurred" with Sandusky Central Catholic School officials that "it was the correct decision and in keeping with the terms of his teacher-minister contract."

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.  



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