The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Snyder County

March 4, 2014

Midd-West board claims former superintendent lied

MIDDLEBURG — Among the 36 charges that led former Midd-West School District Superintendent Wesley Knapp to abruptly resign late last year were claims that he lied under oath, failed to monitor federally funded programs and acted against the district solicitor’s advice.

The four-page statement of charges dated Sept. 24 and sent by registered mail to Knapp prompted his voluntary resignation from the $118,400-a-year position he had held for five years. For months, neither the board nor Knapp would publicly disclose the nature of the charges.

Click Here to see the Midd-West statement of charges.

The Daily Item obtained a copy of the notice of charges from an anonymous source.

After consulting with district solicitor Orris Knepp and special counsel Jeffrey Litts Monday morning, board president Victor Abate declined to comment.

“The board of directors did not authorize the disclosure of the charges,” he said.

Knapp did not return a call for comment Monday.

In the statement of charges, Knapp was informed of the board’s intention to fire him based on 36 charges that “constitute incompetency, neglect of duties, intemperance and immorality.”

The notice also indicated the board’s plan to hold a public hearing on the charges in the high school auditorium on Oct. 9, at which time both sides would present testimony.

“You will be given the opportunity to confront witnesses who testify in support of the charges, and you will be given the opportunity to present witnesses in your defense,” it said.

The hearing was never held. Instead, Knapp resigned in exchange for the withdrawal of the charges against him.

The board not only agreed to drop the charges and not publicly disclose them, but paid Knapp a lump sum of $60,682 as well as an additional $10,000 in annuity payments through June.

Abate would not explain why the board members agreed to pay Knapp to leave the public position if they felt the charges were serious enough to prompt his termination.

“I have no comment at this time,” he said.

One of the charges alleges Knapp gave false testimony under oath during a deposition related to the district’s legal dispute with IMC Construction, of Chester County, over the high school renovation project.

According to the legal definition, perjury is a crime committed by an individual who willfully makes a false statement during a judicial proceeding after he or she has taken an oath to speak the truth. Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch would not comment on whether he was contacted by the school board or its special counsel concerning this claim.

Other charges included claims that Knapp ignored the district solicitor’s advice by deliberately trying to circumvent the public school code regarding building renovations and violated the code by not putting a construction project costing in excess of $10,000 out to public bid.

One of the charges alleged Knapp admitted lacking knowledge about Pennsylvania’s codes related to the bidding process

Knapp’s relationship with board members, including Abate, was apparently a thorny issue as well.

Twelve charges involve his alleged failure to keep the board informed about issues by withholding or misrepresenting information and four charges allege he publicly chastised or made derogatory comments about board members.

At a Sept. 16 meeting, according to the document, Knapp allegedly described the school district as a “laughing stock” prior to his arrival in 2008.

The board also claimed Knapp made disparaging comments about students and parents.

The final charge listed by the board accused Knapp of misrepresenting his academic credentials.

In late December, The Daily Item reported that Knapp attained his doctorate in education administration in 2001 from Kennedy-Western University, an unaccredited institution that shut down in 2009 after failing to achieve regional accreditation and having its license revoked by the state of Wyoming.

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