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Schools chief source of sparks in Morgan

January 11, 1998

Schools chief source of sparks in Morgan Co.

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Morgan County Board of Education will decide by the end of next month whether Charles Montgomery will be offered a new three-year contract as superintendent of schools.

Montgomery, whose three-year contract expires at the end of June, has been the subject of a petition drive that has collected more than 2,000 signatures from county residents asking that he not be offered a new contract.

On Jan. 6, Nina Schwartz of Berkeley Springs presented the Board of Education with petitions signed by 977 people. Petitions with 1,071 signatures were handed to the board in December asking that Montgomery's contract not be renewed.

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More than 50 people have circulated petitions, according to a statement with the petitions. There are less than 16,000 residents in Morgan County.

"We're astonished at the degree and extent of the anger and bitterness voiced by hundreds of signers from the community at large," according to the petition statement.

The petition listed no specific reasons for not renewing Montgomery's contract, but Schwartz's husband, David, said Montgomery has alienated teachers, service personnel and residents.

"When he first took over, he said the school system is not a democracy. He was in control and the board wanted a tough superintendent," said David Schwartz.

"His handling of parents is just unbelievable," David Schwartz said.

Montgomery would not comment on the petition drive. Montgomery said he came to Morgan County from Lima, Ohio, where was superintendent of the Bath Local School District for 10 years.

Montgomery said he has been a superintendent for 26 years in different school systems.

"I'm looking into all the situations on my own behalf," school board President Douglas Michael said.

He said other board members are doing the same.

"We will decide in the very near future what we will do," said Michael, who said a decision on Montgomery will be made by the end of February.

"I would imagine each person taking the petition around have their own problems" with Montgomery, said board member Larry Omps.

"Some of them are from personal contact with Dr. Montgomery. Some people have problems because their friends have problems" with the superintendent, Omps said.

"He gets things done. He's efficient at physical management of school board funds," Omps said of Montgomery.

He would not indicate how he'd vote on renewing Montgomery's contract.

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