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NHS teacher denied leave of absence

Cary Ashby • Updated Dec 16, 2016 at 12:03 AM

A Norwalk High School teacher has resigned after unsuccessfully trying to get a two-year leave of absence.

The Norwalk school board on Tuesday accepted the Jan. 9 resignation of social studies teacher Christopher Cloud, who is pursuing another employment opportunity.

The district, at the recommendation of Superintendent George Fisk, turned down Cloud’s request for a two-year leave of absence, which would have started Jan. 9. 

Cloud, in a letter to Fisk and the board, said he hoped to continue to “develop my professional and educational knowledge” by pursuing an undisclosed opportunity, which he believes will broaden his “professional horizons and enhance (his) educational knowledge.” Having been with the district for 15 years, he said since he couldn’t change the start date and if the board wouldn’t approve his leave-of-absence, he had to tender his resignation.

NHS science teacher Rod Thimke, who called Cloud “an all-around good guy,” asked the board to reconsider turning down his leave of absence, especially since there had been a precedent of accepting other teachers’ similar requests.

Thimke, president of the Norwalk Teachers Association (NTA), served with Cloud on the union’s negotiating team that reached a three-year contract agreement with the school board last December. Joining Thimke and Cloud on the NTA team was Amy Krichbaum, a fourth-grade teacher at League Elementary.

The district and NTA negotiated a total of eight times throughout 2015. The Federal Mediation Conciliation Services assisted with the last four sessions. For more than five months, Norwalk teachers worked under an expired contract.

Cloud teaches three Advance Placement (AP) classes — psychology, U.S. history and U.S. government and politics — plus the regular U.S. government class. Through the AP program, high school students receive college-level curricula and examinations. If they receive high scores on the examinations, those students can receive college course credit.

Cloud has been teaching at NHS since 2002. Prior to that, he taught social studies at Notre Dame Academy in Toledo from 1995 to 2002. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Toledo.

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