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GRCC professor charged with the death of his son now fired by the college

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Grand Rapids Community College terminated Timothy Koets (pictured), a longtime professor, effective Jan. 28. Koets is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the March death of his teen son with autism. In this Jan. 10, 2020 photo, Koets appeared in the 58th District Court, when he and his wife, Michelle, were arraigned for allegedly refilling prescriptions for their 16-year-old after he drowned in the family pool (photo courtesy of Tribune News Service).

Grand Rapids Community College has terminated the employment of professor Timothy Koets following charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in connection to the death of his autistic teen son. 

Koets was placed on paid leave after being arrested on campus grounds in Oct. 2019 and was subsequently fired Jan. 28, 2020. The GRCC Board of Trustees released the agenda for their meeting held Monday, Feb. 17 wherein it listed Koets’ separation from the college. 

GRCC declined to give additional information regarding the matter. 

“It would be inappropriate at this time to discuss additional details about his departure due to an ongoing criminal investigation,” read a statement from GRCC Director of Communications Dave Murray. 

Charges have also been filed against Koets’ wife, Michelle Koets. The couple has been accused of refilling prescription for the drug Ritalin intended for their son, Samual Koets, after his death. 

5 COMMENTS

  1. How strange! I thought that in the United States of America, everyone is innocent until proved guilty. Prof. Koets has not been convicted of any crime. I think GRCC, and Dr. Pink in particular, owe the public an explanation. Citing the grounds on which Prof. Koets was terminated cannot possibly interfere with the alleged investigation. It’s my understanding that the investigation is complete and on that basis, charges were brought against Professor Koets, who remains innocent unless he is proved guilty. For what reason(s) was Professor Koets fired? How did each member of the Board vote in the matter of terminating Prof. Koets’ employment there? These questions are certainly matters of public concern. Does one have to FOIA the Board minutes in order to get the answers? Outrageous! The investigation is not ongoing; it has been closed. But even if it were still ongoing, citing the reasons for his termination from GRCC, and how the members of the Board voted in this matter certainly would not interfere with it. GRCC is a PUBLIC institution and is subject to public scrutiny. This opacity is outrageous.
    Just to clarify, I do not know Prof. Koets or any of his friends and family; nor do I live in his neighborhood or attend his church. I strongly believe in the US Constitution, and certainly hope my employer would have more integrity if I or any of my co-workers were *accused* of a crime. This unexplained action certainly reflects badly on GRCC and Dr. Pink!

    • The threshold of finding someone guilty in a court of law has to be very high especially in this case because the punishment can be incarceration. So in a court of law, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This same threshold is not applied to other areas of life. For example, the Catholic church did not have to wait until criminal courts found priests guilty to remove them from their positions. A person can be terminated without having to be found guilty by a court of law. And Professor Koets was not just “accused” of a crime. He was charged with committing crimes.

      There may be many reasons why the details are not made public yet. Here are just a few hypotheticals. It could be an agreement from both sides as part of a settlement. There could be an effort to end this in as amiable way as possible or to avoid endless litigation. Also, many of the professors at GRCC (if not all) are union members and operate under a CBA. I have not looked into this CBA, but usually CBAs include a means to thwart any unjustified termination. Most also have mandatory hearings. This certainly would have been the case if he was a tenured professor. Not knowing the type of contract he was operating under makes it impossible to know. Some contracts are only good for a specific amount of time in which case, the employer needs to provide no reason for termination.

      Like, you I don’t know Professor Koets and I don’t know any of the details of the case either. But merely being a public institution does not mean that you are entitled to know everything that happens within the institution. For one, this is not feasible. They have to disclose certain things as dictated by law and policy but not everything.

    • You object loudly, but not coherently.

      Whether or not convicted of a crime, the publicly known circumstances surrounding his son’s death have rendered him unfit to serve as a professor. Many students would undoubtedly feel uncomfortable in his classroom. The college was right to terminate his employment.

      Not one of us has a right to unconditional employment, even at a public institution.

      • What about this case would make the students feel uncomfortable, exactly? Because I myself am a student and I do not see anything in this case that would make me feel uncomfortable. His son’s death was not intentional. I don’t feel he poses any type of threat to the students at GRCC, therefore I am not understanding why they would be uncomfortable. I’m just curious and would like to understand your perspective.

  2. I knew Prof. Koets during my first semester with him working on my Associates in 2009-2010, let alone having some of his classes while at Ferris State downtown after graduating. He’s the quiet type but very knowledgeable. I guess I could agree that refilling the prescription of his son for months could constitute as a crime, but the crime surrounding the family’s pool might be an accident. He openly admits he should have stayed and waited longer until his wife was fully awake before leaving for work.

    Him calling his son a freak was taken out of context, for those who know him personally like I did having him as a professor.

    I feel the story surrounding this is one-sided, which lead to his termination; which is quite unfair at the very least.

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