Elkhart teacher fired for inappropriate comments to students

Steven Hentsch, a 15-year veteran of Elkhart Community Schools, was fired Tuesday for reportedly making inappropriate comments to his class. Most recently, Hentsch taught Art at Mary Feeser Elementary, but he had also taught for several years at Elkhart Central High School.

"This was an individual who was employed to teach art and the subject matter he had a tendency to discuss didn't have anything to do with art instruction," said Doug Thorne, Director of Employee and Student Relations for the district.

When reached by phone Tuesday, Hentsch declined to discuss the content of the comments. Neither Thorne nor board members would also discuss on the content of the comments however the comments were not limited to one particular topic.

"I can't really go into the details of what led to the superintendent's recommendation and board's action," said Throne. "This was not an individual who expressed his opinion on one particular subject matter."

District leaders confirmed Hentsch has been disciplined prior to Tuesday for making similar comments to his class and was told by administrators to focus on the curriculum and avoid bringing his personal beliefs into the classroom.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously voted to terminate Hentsch’s contract for making inappropriate comments and for not presenting both sides when discussing controversial issues in the classroom, which is required in the teacher's master contract.

"Whether it's an issue of sexuality, whether it’s issue of sex period, whether it’s an issue of religion, whether it’s an issue of politics, race relations, whatever the issue might be from the stand point of school corporation the key is you're hired to teach the curriculum not provide personal comment. That's your business," said Throne.

NewsCenter 16 spoke with Hentsch Tuesday evening however he declined an on camera interview and said he did not want to point fingers.

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