A couple of weeks ago we brought you the harrowing story of 16-year old Conner Haines who was publicly and rudely accosted by an assistant principal at his High School.
After school one day in April, Haines and his sister were standing on the public sidewalk in front of the school holding pro-life signs when they were approached by Assistant Principal Dr. Zachary Ruff. Ruff began berating and threatening the pair and demanded that they remove themselves from near the school immediately. Undaunted, Haines replied that they were on a public sidewalk and within their rights to stand their holding their signs. This defiance sent Ruff into a rage and the entire incident was caught on tape.
When Conner tells Ruff that the babies being aborted are “image bearers” of God, the principal tells the young man that he “can go to hell, where they are, too.” Think about that, a public school official just told one of his students that he can “go to hell” while also insinuating that the murdered children are also in hell. Does that sound like the kind of thing a man in his position should say? Does this sound like the kind of man that should be in authority over our children?
Ruff [later] attacks Conner’s Christian faith. When Conner tells the principal that Jesus could forgive him of his sins, Ruff explodes in anger and begins berating the 16-year old.
“Listen here son, alright?” Ruff said with a chuckle. “I’m as gay as the day is long and twice as sunny. I don’t give a f*** what you think Jesus tells me and what I should and should not be doing.” Ruff also called the Bible a “book of fiction” and told Conner Haines that “you and Trump can go to hell.”
Ruff can be heard telling the student to “go to hell” on two different occasions, he can also be heard cursing loudly and aggressively at the young man. During the confrontation Ruff also insults the young man’s religious faith and acts so aggressively in an attempt to physically intimidate Haines that a nearby parent was forced to step in to protect the young man.
Here’s the video of the confrontation:
The ensuing kerfuffle terrified the school district which decided to suspend the assistant principal while they investigated the matter. Ruff defended himself by arguing that Haines posed a threat to the students safety and that the two protesters had been banging on passing cars. Through the investigation the school was able to ascertain that both of these assertions were patently untrue and Ruff had simply been lying to cover for his own bad behavior. Once the school district confronted Ruff with their findings he and his lawyer must have realized that there was simply no plausible defense for his behavior and the assistant principal chose to tender his resignation instead of allowing the school to fire him.
In a press release from the Downington Area School District the school condemned Ruff’s behavior and promised the community that their schools fully supported every student’s right to free speech and free expression.
On Thursday afternoon, May 11, 2017 Dr. Zachary Ruff, Dean of Student Life and Academics at the Downingtown STEM Academy, tendered his resignation to the Downingtown Area School District Board of Directors. Dr. Ruff, the School Board, Administration and all members of the Downingtown Area School District would like to put this terribly unfortunate incident in the past to enable everyone to move forward.
Dr. Ruff’s resignation comes following a “Loudermill” hearing that was held on Friday, May 5, 2017. This hearing is required for all tenured employees under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During this hearing, Dr. Ruff was given notice of the allegations against him and was given an opportunity to present his version of the series of events that occurred on April 21, 2017. Dr. Ruff, his attorney Thomas Kelly, and the District’s solicitor reviewed and discussed the confrontation that was caught on a YouTube video and substantiated by DASD surveillance video. In addition, it was noted that the DASD surveillance video did not substantiate the allegation that the demonstrators were banging on cars.
After hearing his side of the story in accordance with due process, Dr. Ruff brought up the possibility that he would resign. Dr. Ruff asked for, and received, additional time to review the charges and subsequent evidence to determine whether he would resign from employment. At the conclusion of the hearing, the District suspended Dr. Ruff without pay. Today he tendered his resignation to the School Board…
In reviewing the video, Dr. Ruff knew that the conduct he displayed was not representative of who he is and was not representative of the kind of educational leader he prided himself on being. Dr. Ruff has acknowledged that the demonstrators had a right to be on a public sidewalk. He acknowledged that his conduct cannot be defended or condoned and he deeply regretted his actions as displayed on the video.
This school district will not interfere with the rights of anyone to express themselves, as those US Constitutional 1st Amendment rights are established in law. The Downingtown Area School District has policies that comply with all legal requirements, including compliance with the First Amendment. The two demonstrators had a right to be on a public sidewalk and a legal right to speak there as well.
We applaud Downington School Districts stated commitment to protecting the rights of their students and are glad to hear that Conner Haines and his sister have been vindicated in this matter. It is our hope that students across America will continue to enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers fought so hard to secure for us, but with hundred and perhaps thousands of educators like Ruff in America today… we are pessimistic about the future of our nation’s education system. Lovers of liberty, we must continue to fight fore the freedoms that the left is trying so hard to take away from us.