The architect of the Douglas High School Fighting Tiger Marching Band started work for rival Carson High School on Monday morning after turning in his resignation on Thursday night.
Bill Zabelsky’s departure caught school officials by surprise, Principal Marty Swisher said on Monday.
Zabelsky sent an email Thursday evening announcing his departure, first to Swisher and Superintendent Lisa Noonan, and then a short time later to Douglas High School’s entire staff.
Because of the short notice, band camp for Douglas High School was postponed on Monday morning, and may be put off until next Monday while school officials scramble to find a replacement.
“We’re in the process of determining the next band teacher,” Swisher said. “I’m not sure if we’ll transfer someone in or have an external candidate. There was no forewarning, there’s nothing prepared for band camp.”
Swisher said a meeting is being scheduled for band students, parents and boosters to discuss the future of the program.
“My disappointment is that the music students and their parents are negatively impacted,” Swisher said. “This could have been handled a lot differently.”
Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School band teacher Tammy Owens was scheduled to help Zabelsky with band camp this week. Swisher said she would take more of a leadership role while the high school works on finding a new director.
Carson High School Principal Ron Beck said candidates for the job were reviewed in early July, then interviews conducted.
However, Zabelsky was out of the country on a family vacation and not available for interview until Thursday, when he was offered the job.
Zabelsky made no secret of his issues with the Douglas County School District, including a pointed letter published by The Record-Courier in November 2012.
He told the Nevada Appeal that it was a difficult decision to leave the students. However, he said, he has been at odds with district officials for some time over cuts to music programs at all levels, and felt pressured to retire.
In May, Zabelsky was named the top music teacher in the state by the Nevada Music Educators Association.
Zabelsky, 59, has taught music for 34 years, 28 of those at Douglas High.
The Nevada Appeal’s Teri Vance contributed to this story.