Students start Web site to help teacher keep job
De Soto Mill Valley High School students and parents have a message for the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education: Science teacher Jeremy Way should stay.
Way, who teaches advanced chemistry at Mill Valley and has been in the district for three years and a teacher for 14 years, has not been recommended to continue teaching next year in the De Soto school district.
Senior Ryan Felshaw said he and other students on the Mill Valley Science Olympiad team, which Way coaches, were shocked when they heard from their teacher he wasn't recommended for contract renewal next year by Joe Novak, Mill Valley principal.
"We can't see any provisions or reasons why Dr. Novak would fire him," Felshaw said.
About 30 students and parents showed up to the special De Soto Board of Education meeting March 24, hoping to address the board with their concerns. However, because it was not a regularly scheduled meeting, board members could not amend the agenda and add a portion for patron input.
Felshaw and other students stayed until the end of the meeting and presented Superintendent Sharon Zoellner with a petition that included about 180 signatures from students and parents urging the board to keep Way at Mill Valley. The students also developed a Web site devoted to keeping Way at Mill Valley, millvalleyscienceolympiad.weebly.com.
Because it is a personnel issue, district officials and board members could not discuss why Way's contract was not recommended for renewal.
Way was advised by the Kansas National Education Association to not comment on the issue.
"What I can say is that I appreciate the support of the parents and students," he said.
Although he has been a teacher for 14 years, Way is still on probation because he was not teaching in the state of Kansas.
Charlyn Shepherd, director of KNEA-Three Trails UniServ, said she was working with the district on Way's case.
"There is an overwhelming show of support by the parents and students that validates that Jeremy was a hardworking and great teacher," she said. "The way this has been handled has been disappointing. He was told he was doing a good job and given high marks, and then a few weeks later he was recommended for nonrenewal."