West Catholic leader resigns

Posted: February 10, 2012

TENSIONS over West Catholic High School's future resulted in the sudden resignation yesterday of its president, Brother Timothy Ahern.

His decision to forego the appeals process after the Archdiocese announced last month it would close the school created an "untenable atmosphere for Brother Tim within the school," the Archdiocese said in a statement yesterday.

The Office of Catholic Education named Assistant Superintendent of Schools Thomas Rooney, to serve as acting president for the rest of the year.

Ahern, a West Catholic alumnus who had taught there and had been in his position for seven years, "was a model leader who worked faithfully and enthusiastically on behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of West Catholic," the statement read.

An unauthorized appeal of the closing began the end of Ahern's tenure. An appeal package, containing a letter signed by the entire faculty and pleading West's case, was dropped off at Archdiocese headquarters last week, school and union officials said.

The Archdiocese's appeals process is quite specific: Only school presidents can request an appeal for high schools. Ahern "acted with all the factual information. He knew that he could not make an appeal," said Eleanor Dezzi, chairwoman of West's board of trustees and a member of the commission that evaluated the schools. "He lives and breathes West Catholic. This is tough on him."

Rita Schwartz, president of the Association of Catholic Teachers, said she spoke last night with an unidentified staff member who said Ahern called a faculty meeting after school yesterday.

"He told them he was hurt and disappointed. He thought he had been personally attacked and that it was impossible for him to continue," the source told her, Schwartz said.

Ahern then said, "I'm resigning immediately," and walked out, Schwartz said, quoting the source.

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