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Mark Zmuda to be recommended as new MIHS associate principal
Four months after being dismissed from Eastside Catholic, it appears Mark Zmuda has found work on Mercer Island.
Mercer Island School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano will recommend to the school board at its May 1 meeting that the former Eastside Catholic vice principal be confirmed as the new Mercer Island High School associate principal, to begin July 1.
Zmuda, who was dismissed from Eastside Catholic in December after marrying his partner in a legal same-sex wedding, was selected from a field of more than 60 applicants following a lengthy interview process involving students, parents and staff. Zmuda replaces the position held by Craig Olson, who left the district in January.
"Mark impressed me with his knowledge of best-instructional practices, his integrity and work ethic and his commitment to the success of all students," Plano stated.
MISD director of human resources Mark Roschy said Zmuda came highly recommended from all of his previous employers and that his prior situation with Eastside Catholic didn't influence the hiring process in any way.
"Had he been fired for any other reason, it might have been an issue," said Roschy. "In this situation, it had nothing to do with the process. Anyone dismissed from a job, that shows up in the application process and we check why they were dismissed. We knew from the headlines and also from disclosure, but after we read the reason [for being dismissed], there was nothing else to ask."
Zmuda received his Bachelor of Science degree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in mathematics and his Master of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas, where he also earned his principal's certification.
His teaching experience occurred at the middle and high school levels in Virginia, Georgia and Florida. He was selected for the vice principal position at Eastside Catholic School, where he served for approximately 18 months before being terminated in December of 2013 after the school discovered he had married his same-sex partner in the summer of 2013.
He is suing Eastside Catholic School and the Archdiocese of Seattle for discrimination, breach of contract, tortious interference with business expectancy and violation of consumer protection act.
Roschy said the search for the associate principal dated back to February, with the district advertising the position in national publications and getting applicants from across the country. Two weeks ago, Zmuda was one of five semifinalists who went through a four-hour interview process, which included interviews with student, parent and staff representatives, as well as a student-led tour of the high school.
Roschy said interview training for the students on what could and couldn't be asked at the interview table ensured the Eastside Catholic situation didn't impact the hiring process. "I know our kids are very smart and very informed and on the tours, people knew who he was. But in the interview process, it had zero effect," he said.
When Zmuda’s contract begins, he will assume the duties of athletic director in addition to his other assignments. Zmuda has experience as a high school coach in the areas of swimming, diving and soccer.
While filling a position left by someone who was there for nearly twenty years can't be easy, the district seems confident they have their guy.
"It was an awesome process," said Roschy. "An amazing number of people applied and I think we scored the right person for the job."