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New Ulm Dance Coach Loses Job Over Living With Fiance

NEW ULM, Minn. (WCCO) -- A high school coach says she was given an ultimatum: Say your wedding vows or say good-bye to your job.

"It's been anger, it's been frustration, it's been sadness all rolled into one," Melissa Marti said.

Melissa Marti served as head dance coach at Cathedral High School for 15 years. She says the Catholic school in New Ulm refused to renew her contract because she lives with her fiancé.

WCCO's Kate Raddatz explains the school's position -- and why some parents support it.

"They were my life for a long time," Marti said.

Melissa Marti has coached the Sonics Dance Team for almost two decades. Last month, she was informed by New Ulm Area Catholic Schools that her living situation was under investigation, and the decision to renew her contract was on hold.

Marti, who is not Catholic, lives with her fiance and son.

Marti received an email offering two options to keep her job: Alter her living arrangements so she's not cohabitating before marriage, or proof of a marriage certificate by June 15.

"It didn't sink in, I bet I read it five times," Marti said. "I did not comply with that. What I do in my own home that does not reflect on my teaching."

A letter went out to parents explaining that the decision to not renew Marti's contract was because she violated "eligibility agreements." It said the district "offered options to resolve the issue."

This parent agrees with the decision.

"This one being a Catholic school, there's certain values they have and expect their coaches to live by," New Ulm parent Terry Zinniell said.

On Facebook, hundreds of people have commented on Marti's page supporting her. One person writing:

"We will keep fighting Missy! You've done amazing things for the program, the school and the community!"

"You can only hope you teach them a little bit about life and not to judge," Marti said. "To see what I've taught them, that's why I do it."

Marti says it's no secret that she and her fiance have been living together for several years. They plan to marry next year.

A school district spokesperson didn't answer questions about why they let Marti go. But they did release a statement, saying in part, "We value Ms. Marti as a coach and appreciate all she has done for Cathedral High School students."

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