It wasn’t Marty Cotterman’s intent to start a firestorm, but a Facebook post at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday did just that.
It was the first many members of the Frontier community had heard about school corporation’s decision to not renew the contract of athletic director and transportation director Jennifer Jacoby.
Cotterman, who has served as the voice of Frontier athletics for about a decade, was invited to meet superintendent Cathy Rowe Friday morning to discuss Jacoby’s situation.
By the time he’d arrived at the corporation office, an estimated 25 people already were there in support of Jacoby.
“I tried to be the mediator,” Cotterman said. “I don’t know if that will save Jennifer’s job.”
Jacoby, Indiana’s 1991 Miss Basketball from Rossville and a standout for the Purdue Boilermakers’ 1994 Final Four team, was hired by Frontier on May 28, 2014, moving closer to home after stepping down as the athletic director at Knightstown.
Rowe would not discuss the situation on Friday, other than saying, “I am formulating with an attorney a statement for Miss Jacoby.”
That statement came via email on Monday.
“Jennifer Jacoby is an employee of the Frontier School Corporation,” Rowe said in the release. “At this time, no determination has been made regarding Ms. Jacoby’s employment status. If necessary, a determination on Ms. Jacoby’s employment status will be made in August, and we will notify you when that meeting will take place.
“Because personnel matters are confidential, the Frontier School Corporation has no further comment at this time.”
Cotterman said the way the situation was explained to him in the meeting with Rowe was that Jacoby was informed Tuesday that her contract would not be renewed.
“Some 20 days into Jennifer’s second year, they finally did a performance evaluation,” Cotterman said. “At that time, she was advised, pending action, she wasn’t going to be renewed.
“There’s a 10-day window for her to file an appeal to be heard by the board. We’re only four days or so into that.”
If Jacoby chooses to file an appeal, the board will schedule an executive session with Jacoby, taking that under advisement to a public board meeting.
Frontier School Corporation’s next scheduled public board meeting is Aug. 17.
As transportation director, Jacoby also was advised to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
Cotterman said he hopes that would not be a deal breaker in retaining Jacoby.
An online petition is nearing 400 signatures as of Friday evening.
Cotterman believes the situation regarding Jacoby was multiplied by other issues lingering that had previously stirred up community members.
The Jacoby news multiplied their frustrations, which Cotterman asked be shared with him. Cotterman compiled about 20 concerns to discuss with Rowe on Friday.
“I posted one post and the floodgates opened,” Cotterman said. “I had no idea how much pent-up anger there was in the Falcon faithful. It went viral. It took off and had a mind of its own.
“Part of my discussion with Mrs. Rowe was Jacoby was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Cotterman said the meeting was productive, calling it both “pleasant and tense.” He said Rowe was hopeful residents would meet with her one-on-one to discuss their concerns.
“We had dialogue both ways,” Cotterman said. “I felt she listened and heard, those are different. Not only did she listen, she heard the message before.”
Jacoby was hired as Knightstown’s athletic director in 2009 before assuming her position at Frontier last summer. She also has served as assistant athletic director at Cathedral. Jacoby has been the head girls basketball coach at Benton Central and Clinton Central and has worked on college basketball staffs at Illinois, Indiana and Miami (Ohio).