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Pa. board clashes on search for assistant superintendent

September 17, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Area School Board started the search for a new assistant superintendent Tuesday amid demands by several board members that mistakes not be repeated from the recently concluded hiring process for superintendent.

The board was sharply divided last week as some members expressed outrage that they had not known of the intention to hire James L. Robertson as superintendent and had not participated in contract negotiations with him. Now, the board is faced with finding a new assistant superintendent as Gloria Walker formally announced her retirement effective Sept. 30.

"As one of the board members who was not involved at the end of the process, I'd think at the minimum we'd want full board participation ... all the way through negotiating the contract," Firmadge Crutchfield said.

Walker, who worked in the district for nine years, will receive retirement payments of $900 a month. Also, the board agreed on a 6-3 vote to keep her as an interim superintendent at a rate of $447 a day from Oct. 1 until Robertson starts work, expected before the second week in November.

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Crutchfield was joined by Leland Lemley and Edward Wilson in voting against retaining Walker.

"I would like to see Dr. Walker just leave. If we need an interim superintendent, there are many out there," Lemley said.

Lemley said she should not have been involved in the hiring of Robertson and that she should not be involved in the search for an assistant superintendent. He described wanting to "turn a new page in this district."

"I think it's time for you to go," he said.

"I think we have a lot to gain from Dr. Walker," Chris Devers said, explaining that he feels she has institutional knowledge to share with the new superintendent.

The board differed on many aspects of how the search for a new assistant superintendent should be conducted. Among them were whether to re-advertise for candidates and conduct the interviews publicly.

"If there was one thing lacking from the previous superintendent search, in my opinion, it was public discussion of people's qualifications, people's tenure and people's commitment to the district," Crutchfield said. "I don't feel I'm entitled to hear any information from a candidate that's less-than-public than anyone else."

Lemley pushed the board to appoint Sherian Diller as the new assistant superintendent. Diller, director of elementary education, had reportedly been the board's other finalist for the job ultimately awarded to Robertson, who is principal of Camp Hill (Pa.) High School.

"I see no point in readvertising and waiting," Lemley said. "I haven't heard anyone say (Diller) isn't qualified."

Asking her to apply again will be "an insult and a slap in the face," according to Lemley.

"I recall at least in the second round ... you had asked each one of those applicants at the end of the interview if they were not offered the position of superintendent if they'd entertain an offer of assistant superintendent," Lemley said.

Pat Heefner was one board member asking that the position be advertised, saying she thinks "it's very important for our new superintendent to be involved in choosing our new assistant superintendent."

The board ultimately voted 6-3 to advertise the position, with Lemley, Crutchfield and Wilson voting against doing so. Devers, Heefner, Stan Barkdoll, K. Marilyn Smith, John Fitz and Mindy Rouzer were in favor.

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