CONFIRMED: Eckstine Resigns as Band Director
An update on the ongoing story.
According to Spring-Ford Area School District Superintendent David Goodin, Band Director John E. Eckstine Jr. has officially resigned from his position with the school. Goodin said Eckstine walked into school this morning, resigned and left. He had no further comment on the issue.
During his time at Spring-Ford, Eckstine led the Golden Ram Marching Band to the Tournament of Bands Group IV Atlantic Coast Championship five the last six years, the most recent coming in 2011.
The Pottstown Mercury broke a story on Thursday involving Eckstine and a Limerick woman, who were involved in what police called a "rolling domestic." The incident resulted in a vehicle accident in Lower Pottsgrove. Eckstine and the woman were both arrested on Wednesday night.
Throughout the day, Patch readers engaged in conversation on Facebook about Eckstine and the history of this incident. One band parent, Andreina Erwin, who also submits photos to Patch, went on the record about the situation.
"I've asked so many times to the Spring-Ford Music Association many times to ban this lady and her children from any activity that involves anything that has to do with Mr. Eckstine," Erwin said in an email. "I always told them that this was going to end in a bad situation."
Erwin and two anonymous sources confirmed Jacqueline M. Alegado, the woman involved in the incident, has two children in the band program. Erwin has two children of her own at Spring-Ford.
"I even was provoked by this lady once, involving my daughter, but I just prevented any situation and left the scene," Erwin continued. "I'm a witness on how last year in a football game Mrs. Alegado came up to the area where we were sitting down with the band to insult and attack Mr. Eckstine. In that opportunity I was the one who blocked her from getting to where he was. In the meantime she was screaming the 'F-word' like crazy. Police [were] called that night to the scene."
There was another incident, Erwin reported, where Alegado allegedly provoked another mother and "they ended up fighting, literally, [on] high school grounds."
Erwin said she was not happy with the school's handling of the situation.
"I'm not justifying Mr. Eckstine's reaction, but it has been years of harassment from this lady," she said. "I believe the school is at fault for not taking the necessary steps to avoid this type of situation."
Erwin and the anonymous sources claimed a restraining order was placed on Alegado, but that has not yet been confirmed with local police. Erwin closed with her disgust with the situation.
"From my point of view, we, the parents, music director, music staff, Music Association have been highjacked by this lady," she said. "Sadly the school board has not taken the right decision from the very beginning."
Facebook users were upset to hear that Eckstine would still be working at the school before the news of his resignation broke.
"First of all, knowing one of the parties," said Ruthi Reckard Huffman. "[Too] many issues to name. As far as the teacher, I have three kids still in the high school and as a [parent], I am NOT comfortable with any one who behaves in such a matter, being around my children or any other kids. And for those who cant always see the bigger picture, if two people push each others buttons to that extreme, do yourself a favor and walk away."
Students of Eckstine lashed back at the adults on the thread. Many users agreed Eckstine should no longer be employed by the school. User Laurel McLaughlin said, "You can't go around saying that he didn't act like an adult when you adults are gossipping like little school girls."
User Amanda Hoch defended Eckstine as a teacher and a man.
"Honestly, this article was extremely inaccurate," she said. "First of all, she was NOT his girlfriend, she had been harassing him for the past year and a half. And the fact that they didn't even bother to verify that with him before putting it on the front page of the newspaper disgusts me. He was probably the greatest teacher I've ever had, and the greatest man I've ever known. He taught me how to work hard, and always believed in me, as with the rest of the band. I respected him more than anyone else, especially after this year. No matter what he had been going through at the time (and there was a lot, trust me) he had stuck with us. He never gave up on us and pushed us to be the best we could be. I can honestly say that he was NEVER a bad influence on any of us, and that this whole situation has not changed the way anyone thought of him. He was more than just a band director to us, he was like family."
User Billie Hoch concluded the conversation as of 4:25 p.m., supporting the students.
"This is a terrible loss to the Spring-Ford Music department," she said. "Read the posts from these students. They are loyal, brave, and courageous. That does not come from a bad influence. They are wonderful traits to have. These young people have lost a lot. I am very proud of the Golden Rams Marching Band- champions on and off the field!"