Grafton School District superintendent to resign after popular teacher removed from classroom

GRAFTON -- FOX6 News has learned Dr. Mel Lightner, superintendent of the Grafton School District, has resigned. It was a shocking twist at the end of a meeting of the Grafton School District's Board of Education on Monday, May 2nd. Well over 100 people were there in support of Bob Maronde, an elementary school music teacher recently removed from the classroom.

According to a statement released to FOX6 News, the Board of Education asked for Lightner's resignation, and it was offered by Lightner and then accepted by the board.

The statement indicates that Lightner's resignation will involve a severance agreement that ends a multiple year contract he currently has with the district.

The severance package will include one year of pay and one year of insurance, effective immediately.

Lightner will not be with the district for the remainder of the school year.

The Board of Education is in the process of commencing a search for Lightner's replacement.

The meeting Monday evening was a closed-door meeting, so those that showed up to support Maronde had no idea what to expect when school board officials emerged.

Cheers filled the Grafton High School Library when it was announced that Lightner would resign.

"I had no idea that this was what was going to happen," Erin Petersen said.

Bob Maronde

Those on hand for the board meeting Monday evening were there in support of Bob Maronde, a music teacher at Woodview Elementary School. Maronde says he was told to resign -- and not offered a contract for next year after an incident in his classroom in mid-April.

FOX6 News was told Maronde would be on paid administrative leave for the remainder of this school year.

Maronde said in April, in his classroom, two fifth-grade boys weren't listening.

Maronde said while briefly separating them from the rest of the class, a door he closed made a lot of noise. Then, at the end of class, Maronde said he saw a third boy holding a kazoo near another student's eye.

"I immediately reached down and grabbed it as quickly as I can, and pulled it away. As soon as I started to pull away, I didn't have a grip, and the kazoo went flying off into the wild blue yonder. I will yell at basketball games (as a coach at Grafton High School) and do all that. But there is a big difference between coaching in a basketball game and teaching eight, nine and 10-year-old kids. I've been teaching 40 years and I have never, never, never once been called in for what's happened in my music classroom. Never.  This is the first time," Maronde said.

Woodview Elementary School

Maronde said he didn't think much of the incident until he was asked by the superintendent to resign.

Maronde told FOX6 News he was offered a deal -- where he would resign, and be allowed to coach the basketball team at Grafton High School for one more year.

He did not agree to that.

"I teach them 'don't give up, don't quit.' So we decided I would not sign the resignation," Maronde said.

"I'm overwhelmed. I guess I'm truly blessed to live here. To have a community that comes together like this is really special," Maronde said of the support he received on Monday night.

"Mr. Maronde deserves the support. He is so involved with the students. He's touched the lives of every resident somehow. He was the best teacher I ever had," Jennifer Gelinskey said.

Terry Ziegler, the school board's president, admitted that Maronde's case was one of the things that factored into the decision to ask for Lightner's resignation.

"It was involved, of course. When you get a crowd this size, of course that reverberates," Ziegler said.

But Ziegler said there were other factors as well -- that some parents are aware of.

"Really thought Lightner needed to go. He`s treated many people poorly in our district, made people resign -- and it`s the right thing. It`s a very good choice they made tonight," Danielle Mossman said.

Lightner's resignation is effective immediately.