The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 3, 2014

M-W director: Fire each detractor

MIDDLEBURG — A vitriolic email penned by Midd-West school board director Ronald Wilson threatening to fire employees he describes as “misfits and charlatans” who oppose the board was deliberately sent to the entire district staff this week.

“I seriously do not believe the word is getting out that we mean business,” Wilson wrote in the email. “This being copied to all staff does not leave any question as to them receiving the boards direction and intentions. Should they not be willing to follow those directions ... they can be shown the door.”

The missive was sent following a written request to the board from school nurse and faculty union president Ann Murray asking that they work to support one another and resolve conflicts, including differences over the effectiveness of Reader’s Workshop, which has teachers and board members split over the new instructional strategy introduced this school year to improve elementary reading test scores.

“In my 24 years in the district we have never experienced these issues,” she wrote, adding that “mixed messages” from the board is adding to the confusion.

Wilson did not respond to calls Thursday from The Daily Item.

“Mr. Wilson does not speak on behalf of the board. The rest of us are appalled by this,” board president Victor Abate said. “We want to commend our staff, not condemn them.”

Abate said he’s already removed Wilson from serving on the negotiating committee as talks are set to begin with the faculty and support staff. The teachers’ contract is set to expire Aug. 31.

He said the board will meet to discuss any other possible reprimand against Wilson, who was elected to the board in 2011.

Damage control in works

Murray and Abate said they will continue to work to address faculty concerns and repair any damage created by Wilson’s comments.

“We have been trying to work together, and then this happens,” Murray said of the menacing email.

The district has been in a state of upheaval for months.

In October, Superintendent Wesley Knapp resigned after being accused of incompetence and neglect of duties based on a list of 36 allegations levied by the board, including that he lied during a legal deposition, gave directors misinformation or kept them in the dark on district business. A search for his replacement is under way.

Last week, newly elected school board director Scott Norman abruptly announced his resignation in a public letter calling for a change in board leadership and lambasting a few unidentified directors for engaging in “dirty tactics and politics.”

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