The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Snyder County

April 22, 2014

Midd-West begins interviewing school chief candidates

MIDDLEBURG — The Midd-West school board has received 16 applications for the superintendent position and has begun interviewing candidates.

Board President Victor Abate said he and the seven other directors expect to complete initial interviews by early May and determine which candidates “will advance to second-round interviews.”

Aiding the district in its search for a new leader following the October resignation of Superintendent Wesley Knapp from his $118,400-a-year job is the Chester County Intermediate Unit, of Downington, which is being paid up to $25,000 for the work.

The board narrowed the search to Pennsylvania and has received input from parents, business and church leaders, faculty and staff who provided guidance on what type of leader they’d like to helm the district.

The board wants to hire a superintendent as soon as possible, but is conducting the search at a time of major upheaval in the district.

Following Knapp’s resignation after five years amid charges from the board that he was incompetent and neglectful in his duties, the district has been mired in controversy that has stirred the ire of many in the community.

Last week, Acting Superintendent Daphne Snook — who had also served as director of curriculum, instruction and technology — was suspended without pay pending a criminal investigation by Middleburg police into an alleged breach of the district’s email system. A week later, the investigation is still ongoing.

Not only is the board looking for a competent superintendent to steer a now leaderless district, the directors are seeking candidates to fill a vacancy on the school board. Scott Norman resigned his seat a few weeks ago after a mere four months citing a lack of board leadership and questionable motives of unnamed board members.

The board is accepting applications and will be responsible for filling the vacancy.

It may not be the last board vacancy.

Veteran board director and past president Nancy Kroh is fighting a taxpayer petition to oust her for alleged unlawful acts, including approving contracts and public funds expenditures without board approval. A hearing in Snyder County Court was postponed this week to give the taxpayers more time to file an amended petition.

Meanwhile, two other petitions to remove Abate and director Ronald Wilson have received wide support and are expected to be filed with the court.

Abate would not comment Tuesday on whether the controversy has hampered the superintendent search.

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