The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 9, 2014

Citizen's group: Midd-West School Board has been 'hijacked'


MIDDLEBURG — A community effort is under way to stop the Midd-West school board from recruiting a new superintendent pending the conclusion of a police investigation into an alleged breach of district email by suspended Acting Superintendent Daphne Snook and results of petitions to remove three directors.

“The board shouldn’t be allowed to make any critical decisions,” Middleburg resident Mike Dupuy said. “The court should stop the clock, just like the board stopped the clock on Daphne Snook.”

After forcing Superintendent Wesley Knapp to resign amid charges of incompetence last fall, the board suspended Snook without pay in mid-April for allegedly breaching the district email system and requested District Attorney Michael Piecuch look into whether a crime was committed.

Piecuch directed Middleburg police to investigate, but no results have been released as of Thursday.

Dupuy urged officials to conclude the investigation that is keeping Snook the subject of innuendo.

He added Snook and Knapp “have been stained by what now appears to be a vendetta-driven agenda, not only to remove but to destroy them.”   

The community has already taken a stand and filed petitions in Snyder County Court for the removal of board President Victor Abate and directors Nancy Kroh and Ronald Wilson for neglect of duty. Hearings are pending.

Concerned residents are now turning up the heat and pledging money to hire an attorney to help them deal with what Dupuy described as a “hijacked school board.”

Nearly $1,000 has been pledged by residents, including former school administrators and board members, and Dupuy plans to meet Monday with an attorney who specializes in education law.

Among the group’s supporters is former school board member Scott Norman, who caused a minor scandal by resigning his seat in March after only three months because of his dismay with the lack of leadership and conflict on the nine-member board.

Norman said he would like to postpone the superintendent search until the dust settles on all the issues facing the district.

He was taken aback by the board’s inability to appoint a new board director among three candidates and along with Dupuy questions how such a divided group can be entrusted to select a school leader.

“It’s hard to comprehend,” Norman said.

He and Dupuy are also concerned that Snook— who applied for the superintendent position — has been sidelined by allegations as the board continues interviewing about a dozen candidates.

“We cannot abide by the decisions such a dysfunctional board might make,” Dupuy said. “Why would we allow them to rush headlong into selecting a new superintendent of schools, because the wrong person could set our community back in a time when we are finally moving forward.”

Abate had no comment Thursday on the new developments in the community. A special board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Middleburg Elementary to reconsider the appointment of a new board member.

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