Idaho science teacher keeps job, put on probation

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (AP) - A popular science teacher at Snake River High School in southeastern Idaho will keep her job but is being placed on probation.

The Snake River School District Board of Trustees on Monday determined Elaine Asmus didn't violate harassment and bullying policies. But it found she did violate the Idaho Code of Professional Ethics for Professional Educators.

"I'm very happy and very thankful," Asmus said. "You can't get better students. You can't get better parents or better community support. I stayed here this many years for a reason - I love this place."

Earlier this month the school board held two packed hearings that added up to about 15 hours concerning renewing Asmus' contract.

"It has been an exciting few weeks (and they've been) hard on everybody concerned," Snake River School Board Chairman Wally Aldous said.

The case stemmed from a formal complaint filed against Asmus by another teacher who also is the wife of the school district's superintendent.

According to the district's findings of fact, Laura Gabrylczyk testified that Asmus entered her classroom and started yelling at her. Gabrylczyk then filed a harassment complaint against Asmus.

The district's legal counsel, Bryce Lloyd, recommended that Asmus' contract not be renewed.

But former students rallied behind Asmus, who has been teaching in the district for more than two decades. Some teachers, during the due-process hearing, said Asmus created a "hostile work environment." But others testified she was easy to get along with.

As part of its conclusions concerning Asmus, the school district also decided to revisit how it enforces policies.

"This matter has been divisive and disruptive of the educational atmosphere and has undermined the trust and confidence of the District patrons in our educational system," officials wrote. "On the whole, however, the Board has great confidence in all of the teaching and administrative staff, and it strongly believes that with earnest and committed efforts by all involved, these issues can be resolved."