Many former and current students of longtime Lake Central auto shop teacher Dennis Brannock were in tears Saturday after the school board in a 3-2 vote accepted his resignation.
Brannock, 76, had been on administrative leave after not immediately reporting that a man with a gun approached the auto shop bay near working students after school hours on Sept. 21.
Board member Howard Marshall Jr. said Brannock had an opportunity to appear before them to give his side of the events but did not accept. Instead of his statement, the board received Brannock’s letter of resignation/retirement.
Marshall said based on evidence they reviewed, there were a number of issues involved.
“Unfortunately, the right decisions were not made, as far as I am concerned,” he said.
Voting with Marshall to accept Brannock’s resignation were board president Don Bacso and Cindy Sues. Board members Janice Malchow and Sandy Lessentine voted against the resignation.
The man who entered the shop with a gun was upset about a student allegedly driving recklessly through the neighborhood near the school. After the man was initially confronted by a student about having the gun, he put the weapon back in his car, then the man returned to speak with Brannock, police said in an Oct. 3 statement.
Police said that witnesses reported that students in the classroom were told by the responsible adult or adults present during the incident not to discuss or report the incident, and that it would be handled by them at the time.
Malchow, who was also in the auto shop that day, also did not immediately notify authorities. She was later interviewed by police, according to officials.
An ongoing investigation conducted by St. John Police Chief James Kveton revealed the man, who will likely face charges, is a two-time felon.
Charges are likely within days, Kveton said in an email last week.
While some students and parents said the current class without Brannock is more like recess and study hall, Superintendent Larry Veracco said the temporary teacher is “very qualified” with eight certifications and that others are interested in the position full time.
During the meeting Saturday, Malchow said neither she nor Brannock saw a gun the day of the incident, and they did not feel threatened by the situation. She said the man was not irate when he entered the shop.
“I did not see any danger that day,” she said.
Malchow also unsuccessfully tried to have the board make Brannock’s resignation effective June 15, 2019. She said Brannock would have been willing to do that.
Those at that the meeting included Kristie Hussey, who had one son go through Brannock’s class and has another currently enrolled. She said the three board members who voted to accept Brannock’s resignation “don’t give a crap about their students.”
Junior Alejandro Munoz Maldonado said he would not be standing now if it were not for Brannock, who he said “cares so much.”
“He has always made sure that I am okay,” he said.
Veracco also said to address some of the security concerns that the school will keep a gate leading to areas including the auto shop closed after the buses leave until 5:30 p.m. every day.
Rob Earnshaw is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.