The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 2, 2014

82 Midd-West seniors ask that Abate not give out diplomas

MIDDLEBURG — The tradition of having the president of the Midd-West school board hand out diplomas to graduating seniors has been dropped from Friday’s ceremony.

A petition signed by 82 seniors, nearly half of the graduating class, requested that ousted Acting Superintendent Daphne Snook be invited to commencement and be allowed to hand out the diplomas.

Six students met last week with board President Victor Abate, high school Principal Cynthia Hutchinson and Acting Superintendent Donna Samuelson to discuss the issue.

“They were very respectful and well-spoken,” Abate said.

Hutchinson also was impressed by the students’ ability to state their position in a face-to-face meeting.

They wanted Snook to take Abate’s place at commencement.

Snook was suspended without pay in April pending a criminal investigation into whether she had illegally monitored district emails.

She later was cleared of any wrongdoing, and when the board failed to act promptly on her job status, she filed a federal lawsuit against eight board members and district solicitor Orris Knapp III for defamation, retribution, breach of contract and other alleged violations.

During the meeting with Abate and school administrators, the six students asked that Hutchinson be given the task of handing out the diplomas.

Abate said he was happy to oblige, although he plans to stand next to Hutchinson at the ceremony and congratulate each graduate.

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