The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 11, 2014

Petitioners demand information about Knapp's resignation

MIDDLEBURG — A petition is circulating in the Midd-West School District that demands the school board disclose details surrounding the resignation of Superintendent Wesley Knapp.

A local businessman, who did not want to be identified, created the petition out of frustration with the board for refusing to release the facts behind Knapp’s resignation.

According to the separation agreement obtained by The Daily Item under the Right-To-Know Law days after the Oct. 28 announcement, Knapp voluntarily resigned the $118,400-a-year position he had held since December 2008 in exchange for the board’s withdrawal of a notice of unspecified charges against him.

Under the terms of the agreement, the board paid Knapp a lump sum of $60,682 as well as an additional $10,000 in annuity payments through June.

Both sides have declined to disclose the nature of the charges, calling it a personnel issue.

That isn’t sitting well with residents.

“I want to know why,” said 81-year-old Beaver Springs resident Patricia Bingaman, explaining why she signed the petition that states elected board members of a public school district have “a moral and legal obligation” to release the information.

School board President Victor Abate was unaware of the petition and had no comment on it.

“We hope somebody will come forward,” the petition writer said Monday. “This is not supposed to be buried. The man (Knapp) is walking away with $70,000 in taxpayer money.”

Another irate resident, Kenneth Keister, of Middleburg, recently filed in Snyder County Court a petition bearing 73 signatures that seeks the removal of board member Nancy Kroh for alleged dereliction of duty and unlawful conduct while serving as board president for much of the time Knapp led the district.

Among the allegations are that Kroh withheld information from the school board to control votes related to spending public funds; approved contracts and expenditures without the full board’s input or a vote; conspired with (unnamed) school administrators to unlawfully create the federal programs coordinator position and facilitated the unlawful closing of two elementary schools.

Kroh denies the claims and has hired an attorney, paid for by the district’s insurance carrier, to fight the move to oust her from the elected position.

She has until Feb. 20 to answer the petition or face removal from the board.

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