Letter: Hearings Are Over, Yet Questions Remain
To the Editor:
There were nine long days of hearings in the John Yoon and Dr. McKersie controversy. To his credit, Mr. Yoon asked that the hearings be open, which gave all there—50-plus each day—a chance to hear both sides of this issue. Now the Board of Education has the arduous task of deciding the outcome. The hearing officer will make a recommendation (not binding) by Dec. 7, after which the board will have two weeks to decide Mr. Yoon’s future. No board members attended the hearings, but they will presumably have access to the hundreds of pages of transcript. That’s a lot of reading in a short time and of concern, as the sworn testimony of all the witnesses is needed to assure a just decision.
The allegations against Mr. Yoon were presented by the GHS headmaster, the former director of Human Resources, and the superintendent. The parent of Student A testified as part of the administration’s case. Students A and B did not testify but their complaints, and their parents’, are included as well as memos from administrators and the “discipline file.” Administrators did not ask any other students, parents or teachers to testify.
Denials of the allegations were presented by students, teachers, parents—several in each category—and by John Yoon. Two of the parents are co-chairs of the Band Parents, one of the teachers is a college music professor, and another is president of the GEA. Added to the testimony are almost 30 positive letters from parents, teachers and concerned members of the Greenwich community. Still out there, on the internet, are very supportive comments from Mr. Yoon’s past and present students and others on Change.org (750) and Facebook (over 600).
Disturbing questions remain about the decision to terminate John Yoon. Why did GPS administrators not conduct thorough investigations or seek opinions and observations from other students in the classes? Sworn testimony by several students who were in the same classes presented a far different picture of what actually happened than what was alleged by Students A and B and their parents.
Why did GPS administrators not comply with all provisions of the GEA contract? Notice of his suspension was not given Mr. Yoon in the required time and GEA testimony indicated allegations in this particular dismissal were not handled professionally. Many documents in the “complaint file” were not signed by both the author and Mr. Yoon, as required by contract. It appears nothing unprofessional happened in this case to indicate Mr. Yoon should be terminated, or even disciplined.
Was the superintendent ill advised to bring this case? Is it easier to terminate a teacher who has high expectations for his students (that alone can bring complaints) than to deal with complaints from students or parents? If so, and Mr. Yoon is terminated, the most salient question becomes, “Who will be the next outstanding and inspiring teacher our GHS students will lose?”
Of note: The college professor, an internationally renowned musician, observed GHS band classes for a week. He testified Mr. Yoon’s conduct in classes and comments to students were all professionally correct and a part of good musical instruction. He lauded the GHS Band as one of five high school bands he regards as the best in the U.S. No wonder our GHS band students formed a “Bring Back Mr. Yoon Club”!
The writer is a former teacher/librarian of the GHS Media Center.