01/07/2014 02:23 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Stephanie Merrow, Gay 'Drama Coach,' Backs School's Ex-Vice Principal By Announcing Engagement

The vice principal who was allegedly fired from his Catholic high school job after officials learned he'd married his same-sex partner some months prior got some unexpected support from a woman who claims to be a fellow staff member, who revealed she'd gotten engaged to her girlfriend.

Stephanie Merrow, who says she works as a part-time drama coach at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Wash., told KING 5 News reports that she felt inspired by the many students who rallied in support of their former vice principal Mark Zmuda, who lost his job last month after authorities learned of his marriage to husband Dana Jergens. She said she planned to arrive on campus Jan. 7 wearing the engagement ring she received from her girlfriend.

"Either I'll be fired, or the students will say, 'Right on,'" Merrow told the news channel in a Jan. 6 interview. "It doesn't matter if I get fired, I want [students] to know that I think what they did was incredible and if anything changes, it's going to be because of this next generation."

She also told The Ron and Don Show she'd been "battling" the decision to come forward about her engagement, adding, "When this happened with Mark, somebody who works at the school called me and said 'I would understand if you want to quit' ... But I'm not going to quit on those kids."

It certainly could be a bold move for Merrow. Yesterday, additional claims about Zmuda's departure came to light, with the former vice principal telling media outlets that he was told by Eastside Catholic officials to divorce Jergens, who he married in July 2013, if he wanted to keep his job.

"Apparently, the fact that I have a same-sex partner, they're against that," Zmuda is quoted as saying. "But I also thought a teaching they were against was divorce."

Although a reported 400 students participated in an on-campus sit-in on Dec. 19 in Zmuda's defense, King 5 cites a letter sent home to parents of Eastside Catholic High students which said that anyone involved in campus protests over Zmuda's departure when classes resumed Jan. 6 would be sent home.

UPDATE Jan. 7 at 3:40 p.m. Eastside Catholic High School officials told the Associated Press that Merrow is not on the school payroll and is not employed at the school. The AP report quotes Sister Mary Tracy, head of the school, as saying that Merrow did work for the school’s drama production two years ago and had applied for contract work for the school’s upcoming musical, but was not hired.



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