Editor’s note: This letter is in response to reaction to one decision made by the late Eastbrook Consolidated Schools Superintendent Dennis Fox (1945-2016) in February 1994. This is considered to be a “civil cold case” now resolved.
Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to Dr. Fox’s family and friends during this extremely difficult time. A brave husband and educator lost his life after an illness. We also extend our sympathy to one of my late brother’s friends Jessica (Todd) Fox and offer thanks to those who have stood by yours truly after Albert’s suicide on August 10, 2002 (even though he drowned at Pine Lake).
I have received a number of comments about a Facebook post that I had to post since it met my threshold of a post that seemed necessary in my judgement. It was Dr. Fox’s obituary nonetheless. The reason why I intercepted that particular post after I read it on Facebook via Jessica and the fact back in February of 1994, Mississinewa Community Schools was either under a delay or running on time while the home district at the time (Eastbrook) was closed due to weather conditions, and in violation of a Zinn Family Policy that went into effect on July 4, 1993 (follow the Mississinewa Community Schools Schedule regardless of the schedules of the home district–even if Eastbrook is on delay or closed).
As a fourth grader at Northview Elementary School (located in the Mississinewa School District) living in Van Buren (in the Eastbrook school district) back in February 1994, I had begun to take the role more of a parent than a child. Education then as now is important. It is just one reason why at the end of every Vote for the Girls episode, I add the phrase, “Help control your child’s education, have them immunized.” I would go on and on and on explaining in further details like the Energizer bunny, but I am not going to.
Twenty-two and a half (22 1/2) years later–in 2016–now as a woman and a father (yes, I still am a father despite the ongoing gender transition) of four daughters (one of them has since graduated from college, two in high school and one in middle school), it is safe to say that a dispute is finally resolved. Fall/Autumn is now in full swing. It’s chilly. It’s a time of year when you start preparing for winter weather conditions such as snow and ice, which is an even greater hassle than usual because of the cold conditions. Nonetheless, I used to love snow and play in it, but not anymore after 1994 after that incident and seeing a water heater pipe bursting when I lived at my mother’s in Van Buren. (I never forgot it as long as I’m alive)
After celebrating my 11th birthday, I took a vow of loyalty when I got the flu back in January 1994 and had to miss school due to that. It is also a vow of perfection and doing whatever it took and anything to achieve that goal–even if means going to school sick, making the three hour walk or one hour bike trip from Van Buren to Gas City in the event Mississinewa Community Schools is running on schedule while Eastbrook Community is either closed or delayed (which meant back then no transportation).
That particular incident of which following an investigation that was later determined to be at the decision of Dr. Fox back then (and at one point, if memory serves me right, even tried to confront him right after my brother’s high school graduation in June 1996, but my mother wouldn’t allow me to do so–despite knowing what I knew was right and wrong on my part). That decision of Dr. Fox to have the audacity to closing Eastbrook for the day in February 1994 while Mississinewa wasn’t, which to this day (and have now officially forgiven Dr. Fox for that) was ruled (based on 1994 rules and regulations) for CAUSING (yes, I said “causing” since then as now as it could have easily all been avoided had Mississinewa AND Eastbrook closed for the day) yours truly to lose out perfect attendance back in the 1993-94 school year.
It was after my mother, brother, and I relocated from Van Buren to Marion on October 15, 1996 influenced of what my immediate family would become and learning from the mistakes a parent made while growing up: to ensure my children get their education and becoming a far better parent than my mother was when she raised my brother and myself, I adopted a special system (dubbed the “Bothwell system” after the then-Mississinewa Community Schools superintendent Dr. Robert Bothwell when I attended RJB and Ole Miss High School), while my four daughters and son (Samantha, Tiffani, Ashli, Tabitha, and Kenneth) as well as my step-daughter Denise (Kymberly’s youngest daughter) would contractually stipulate (it’s a rule that I have enforced since July 4, 1993) about school closings/delays involving my children’s and my alma matter school district (Mississinewa Community Schools) regardless of the home school district (in this case since 1996, Marion Community Schools and from 1985 until 1996 Eastbrook Community Schools), and ensuring my children meet or even exceed a good attendance record–a very important aspect of having a good education.
Under the terms of the July 1993 rule passed by the family legislature, I had a contractual obligation as a 10 year old boy, I have to arrive promptly at Northview Elementary promptly at 8:25 a.m. Eastern, and cannot arrive late or be absent for any reason whatsoever, even weather conditions. I was inclined to favor my education over whatever any administrator says (two clear examples were on April 18, 1996 and in January 1997), as I only had two friends (Holly Everman and Robyn Hurd) being well treated well in hopes of return loyalty.
That obligation, unfortunately, often times includes controversy, backlash, negative criticism, uncomfortable subjects that are at times difficult to hear, make you upset, or even make you angry. And while this Mississinewa High School Class of 2001 Alumnus is now living as a woman 34 years of age, everyone involved is human and have similar reactions. So these are situations we take very seriously.
By learning about Dr. Fox’s death this week from a long-time friend of Albert’s that I inherited, I was able get a resolution to a 22 1/2 year old dispute automatically and officially forgave Dr. Fox.
Also by deciding to posting the obituary on Facebook with my thoughts, you were able to get an answer to “who caused Ava Zinn to miss school that day in February 1994?” I also wanted to give some insight and direction into someone I did not agree with about the decision to delay or cancel school involving two school districts–attending and home districts. For some, maybe it’s something you are already familiar with in Grant County or wherever you live; for others it may be something you simply do not understand or comprehend and I suggest you do some research–that’s how you will learn by reading and doing research.
Plus, if my memory serves me correctly when I read the obituary, I learned Dr. Fox was pretty much the predecessor of Dr. Bothwell and in a bit of an irony (not 100 percent sure or even confirmed this) from what I remember, I’m pretty sure there is an indirect lead (maybe just a hunch) to my dis-enrollment from Indiana Wesleyan University 15 years ago and the hunt for another college/university to attend in order for readmission to IWU after completing a few credit hours at another college/university (something I have determined back in January 2002). It was very difficult for to see, comprehend and understand — mostly for anyone who attended Mississinewa Community Schools but doesn’t live in the school district.
This story was just only one small part of my complete coverage of the IWU Cold Case and ensuring what I know is right for my children. I will continue to fight for family and continued do so.
It is not my my intention to bash someone that has recently passed while that same individual’s family is in mourning, as one person commented on Facebook. This is not the first time it has happened, and I’m sure it will not be the last.
Again, I honor Dr. Fox for his dedication to the Eastbrook Community Schools and we hope you understand the tough choices that must be made. Like my friends and fans–BOTTOM LINE–justice is officially served .
Transgendered sister of Albert Zinn (1977-2002)