By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG — Midd-West school board Director Nancy Kroh has until Feb. 20 to answer a petition endorsed by 73 residents in Snyder County Court seeking her removal for alleged unlawful conduct and neglect of duty — or face automatic removal.
Judge Michael T. Hudock issued an order requiring Kroh to respond to the petition submitted by Middleburg resident Kenneth Keister listing nine separate claims against Kroh, including “knowingly and willingly” withholding information from the school board to control votes on financial issues; unlawfully approving contracts and spending taxpayer money without board approval; and facilitating the unlawful closure of Perry-West Perry and West Beaver elementary schools.
A court hearing will be scheduled if Kroh responds to the claims and shows cause to why she should not be removed from the board.
If Kroh fails to respond, Hudock said, the motion will be granted and she will be removed.
“It’s a shock, especially when you figure I’ve been doing the right thing for the kids and the taxpayers,” said Kroh, who denies the allegations. “I’ve always followed the code of ethics.”
She has retained an attorney who is being paid by the district’s insurance carrier.
A director on the nine-member school board, Kroh served as the panel’s president for four years before she was replaced by Victor Abate in December 2012.
“Mrs. Kroh needs due process. We will let the courts decide,” said Abate, declining further comment.
Keister began circulating the petition a few months ago following the abrupt resignation of Superintendent Wesley Knapp amid disclosure in October that he was leaving the $118,400-a-year job in exchange for the board withdrawing a notice of unspecified charges against him.
Knapp and the board have refused to comment on the nature of the charges. The district denied The Daily Item’s request for the notice of charges under the Right-to-Know Law on the grounds that they involve a personnel issue.
Keister has publicly questioned how the board can keep quiet about the unspecified charges against Knapp while agreeing to pay him an additional $70,682 to leave his public position.