LHS coach/teacher tells his side of resignation

March 26, 2024

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Editor’s note: Last week, Evan Kroeze, the Ludington High School varsity baseball coach and a LHS teacher, resigned following allegations of misconduct with a former student. MCP ran the story based on information provided by the school district. The school district did not mention Mr. Kroeze’s name, but it was fairly obvious that he was the subject of the allegations, based on the fact that he was the only LHS high school teacher who recently resigned and whose resignation by accepted by the board of education. Mr. Kroeze has sent MCP the following letter: 
Dear Editor,

My name is Evan Kroeze, now a former teacher and coach at Ludington High School. There is no doubt in my mind some, if not all of you have heard rumors and stories about me over these last five to six weeks. I am writing this letter to you to tell my story and make you aware of what has truly happened, not just what this current administration has tried to pin against me. On February 16th, 2024, my life was forever changed. As I was preparing to leave school after the annual charity week assembly, the Vice Principal, Frank Marietta came to find me in my room. He asked me to come down to the office to “talk about something.” I asked what this was about and he refused to tell me. Willingly, I went to the office where I was put into a conference room with no information. Even when I went to the restroom, he watched me like I was a convicted criminal. Finally, Principal Forsberg entered the room where he handed me a letter stating I was placed on administrative leave, again refusing to tell me what was going on. At this point, I was preparing to leave the room, when two officers from Ludington Police Department came in to ambush me like it was a sting operation. To be clear, this violates the following board policies and/or laws:

1. All teachers must be offered union representation in such matters. All Frank told me while in the hallway was “you might want to call JP.” This statement was not explained on why, what that even means, or what is going on. 2. The teacher shall be provided with oral or written notice of the issue or incident being investigated. Again, this did not happen, as this administration schemed together to have me ambushed and blindsided by law enforcement. 3. Prior notice of this meeting shall be provided to the teacher for any discipline that could result in loss of pay, suspension, or employment.
It was law enforcement who finally told me what was going on. I was instructed that I was being accused of sexual misconduct with a former student at LHS. After experiencing fear that I had never felt before, I agreed to stay and cooperate, as I have nothing to hide. Speaking with them twice, once on February 16th in the high school and once on February 17th at the police department, along with willingly surrendering my phone to be searched, law enforcement was made aware of the following information. Someone currently a part of LHS claimed I had sex with a former student of LHS while she was in school, years ago. This is NOT true and proven not true. The student that this is about was someone I have known for a long time in many different capacities. She was a neighbor of my family, long before I was a teacher, a student in my first year in 2019, and someone who worked with/for me after her time at LHS. She and I, while she was an adult, saw each other two times. The timeline of the story was confirmed by LPD, as by Tuesday, February 20th, I was told by law enforcement that there are no charges being filed and the investigation is over.
This situation had actually been brought up before with superintendent Corlett. In the fall of 2022, he called me in for what apparently was a secret meeting between him and I. He informed me he heard rumors that I am “dating a former student.” During this meeting, I gave him the girl’s name, our different history in the different roles, and denied being in a relationship with her. He claims that this was me lying to him, which I, to this day, disagree with. Spending a few hours total with someone is not dating or being in a relationship. I have no obligation to tell my boss about my personal life with any adult of any kind. It is also not his job to play the role of moral police with his staff. He could have followed up or handled things properly then, which he chose not to do. I heard nothing of the matter again until February 16th, 2024.
Once I was cleared by law enforcement, I naively thought this was going to be over soon and life was going to continue. Instead, I was called in by principal Forsberg on Tuesday, February 20th and was told the school was starting a “fact finding” investigation. Looking back, it is clear this first fact finding investigation was a complete sham by superintendent Corlett. I went in for an interview, where I was open and transparent again about who the former student was, our dynamic/history, and what happened. They stated they were going to look into the matter and get back to me. Well, within 36 hours they had conducted their full investigation. On Thursday, February 22nd, I was told by superintendent Corlett, and principals Forsberg and Marietta that I have “24 hours to leave or I will be terminated.” This was a clear lie as the board has to approve all firings and to me, a clear and dirty attempt by the administration to strong arm me out of the district. Devastated and scared, I called the union, even though I was not a member at that time. After sharing the complete story once again, they informed me of the rights I have that had been violated by the administration. The MEA contacted the school, and they were forced to actually follow procedure in these matters.
On the following Monday, February 25th, another “fact finding” meeting took place at the CBO. From there, the school presented its “evidence” against me. First, it included me being “insubordinate”, due to me canceling our morning winter practices and telling one of my players I can not attend his college football signing, after he invited me. The school claimed this violates the leave policy as I was not permitted to contact students. Though true, according to the document, all I was trying to do was not have kids show up to school at 6 am, as well as not break a kid’s heart and have him think I was skipping one of the biggest days of his life. I would also like to add this policy was not explained to me by any school official, the letter was handed to me seconds before being ambushed by police, and Corlett himself told me the rules were “keep making lesson plans and stay off of school campuses.” From there, the administration and their attorney claim I groom kids. This to them can be seen from two emails the former student sent during her time at LHS, where she reached out to thank me for always being there as a teacher and helping her with things like college applications. The school claims that this is “unprofessional behavior” and it is not my job to help students with any “personal issues.” I completely disagree with this statement. Throughout my time at LHS, I have always tried to be the teacher with an open door policy. Whether that means writing letters of recommendation, helping students with college applications, giving students a place to work in an off hour, or eating lunch. When hired, I was told that learning is relational and I still believe in this. The reason I entered education is because my teachers, coaches, and counselors provided the same support for me. Through character reference interviews, they also claimed that “it is common knowledge Mr. Kroeze spends time with students alone in his classroom.” I deny that claim fiercely, as anytime students do come to my classroom, it is always in groups, which can be confirmed by my former supervisor, someone who also left LASD and its toxicity. Finally, their last piece of evidence against me was a senior letter I wrote to the former student. Due to me writing this and telling her “she has a beautiful future ahead of her”, shows inappropriate conduct. Just to be clear, I write multiple letters a year, to all kinds of students, as it is a special tradition at LHS, one I have been a part of as a student and now staff member. It disgusts me that this administration used that against me.
There is also another element to this that I believe is worth bringing to your attention. At the end of the day, the main reason it is so easy for the school to get rid of me one way or the other, is the fact that I am not a tenured teacher. Michigan tenure law is 5 years completed or 4 years with three highly effective evaluations. Without tenure, a teacher can be dismissed for essentially any reason or without cause. This was my 5th year as a part of LHS. Before superintendent Corlett came along, I was highly effective two years in a row. Then he changed the evaluation system that caused me to drop to only being effective. Also with that, my observer, at the time Vice Principal Forsberg, did not observe me the legally required amount, or collect my lesson plans, as is law as well. I view this “Effective” rating as illegitimate and a major factor in why I am no longer a part of LASD. There is no doubt in my mind, or my legal team’s mind, that if I was tenured, this would have played out differently.
This process has completely destroyed my reputation and standing in the community I was born in, raised in, and came back to. The school claimed it is my fault this has spread and even was told by Corlett that it has been “determinantal to the district.” I find this statement comical as it has been students, staff members, and even a board member that has been talking, spreading rumors, calling news outlets, and smearing my name during this process. I am not writing this to claim I am perfect, I am human. But, I have been open and transparent throughout this entire process, which the same can not be said about this school’s administration. My whole life has been dedicated to giving everything I can to LASD, its students, and this community. This can be seen from my dedication to being a teacher/coach, as well as ; *Helping out at sporting events *Spending hundreds, if not thousands, of personal hours preparing and maintaining the baseball field. *Assisting at weekend baseball tournaments for the Ludington Baseball Club. *Being available to help fellow teachers cover their classrooms when needed. *Taking part in the charity week events. *Taking part in the homecoming events. *I make myself available after school hours for students who have questions or need additional help with classes or assignments. *Spending evening hours and weekend hours with players who have wanted extra practice time. *Assisting several players by preparing their college baseball videos and connecting them with college coaches. *Organizing and directing the summer youth baseball camp which benefits hundreds of county youth. * Being a social studies curriculum department member within the high school.
I now begin the process of rebuilding my life, where I will be leaving the town that meant everything to me, where my family and friends still are. This letter is not to gain pity or sympathy from anyone. It is simply my last defense on who I am a teacher, coach, and man. So many good people have been driven out or attacked by this superintendent. The mishandling and attack on people will not stop until they are held accountable, just as everyone else in the district should be, no matter the circumstance. My biggest honor in my life is being called a teacher and coach for the great students that are a part of LHS. I do and will miss it every day of my life moving forward. I hope good can come from this situation when the dust is completely settled.
Evan Kroeze

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