Eastside Catholic president resigns amid controversy over VP firing

Seattle-area high school in turmoil since departure of gay administrator.

After a month of protests from students, parents, and alumni over the firing of an administrator who married his male partner last summer, the president of a Seattle-area Catholic high school has resigned.

Sister Mary Tracy, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, submitted her resignation to the board of Eastside Catholic School earlier this week. Her school became embroiled in controversy after the departure of Vice President Mark Zmuda in December; Zmuda, who married a man before the start of the Fall 2013 semester, was let go because entering into the same-sex marriage violated the terms of his contract with the school.

From the Seattle Times:

“Sister Mary came to this decision after much prayer and reflection,” said a statement emailed Tuesday to the Eastside Catholic community. “For Sister Mary it was a difficult but necessary decision so that a new leader can be brought in to ensure the entire Eastside Catholic community is on a positive path forward.”

The school says it plans to start a search for Tracy’s replacement right away and that Principal Polly Skinner and interim Vice Principal Tom Lord will lead the school in the interim.

Tracy did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

The co-chairmen of Eastside’s board were not immediately available for comment.

Tracy, 63, had more than 30 years of leadership experience with the Seattle Archdiocese and at area Catholic schools before 2010, when she joined Eastside as president and CEO.

Her dismissal of Zmuda triggered a sit-in protest by Eastside students that spread to another local Catholic school, led to rallies in front of the Seattle Archdiocese’s offices and launched a global campaign whose supporters hope to nudge the school and the church on issues of sexuality.

This past month, Eastside has been criticized for the lack of clarity on the Zmuda decision, with its attorney insisting the vice principal resigned, while Tracy said he was terminated.

On-going protests from students and alumni have kept Eastside Catholic in the news the last several weeks, as has the school’s decision to renew the contract of a music coach who recently announced her engagement to her girlfriend. Stephanie Merrow said that her contract was renewed—and that she even received a small raise—without any stipulations regarding Church teaching, apparently because she is an independent contractor and not subject to the same employment requirements as regular employees.

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.