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February 8, 2014

Former super violated pact, director says

Knapp on campus without OK

MIDDLEBURG — Former Midd-West schools Superintendent Wesley Knapp was warned in mid-December that he would be in breach of a separation agreement if he entered campus property a second time without permission before his official Dec. 31 resignation date.

Knapp violated the terms of the agreement, signed Oct. 28, that prohibited the ex-school administrator from stepping foot on campus without permission, board President Victor Abate said Saturday.

Knapp resigned as superintendent in exchange for school directors withdrawing a notice of charges against him.

Those charges have not been made public by Knapp or the board, and Knapp was allowed to resign and collect a lump sum of $60,682 and annuity payments through June totaling $10,000.

Midd-West denied The Daily Item’s request to reveal the charges under the Right-to-Know law, citing it as a personnel issue.

Knapp’s alleged violation of the agreement came to light from emails submitted with a petition filed in Snyder County Court to oust board director Nancy Kroh from the panel for alleged unlawful neglect of duty.

Emails reveal that Abate had expressed concern in writing to the other board members in mid-December that Knapp had visited the district office without prior approval.

Knapp: I needed notary

On Dec. 17, Knapp sent a lengthy email to Abate explaining his actions and asking him to “please get over your confrontational attitude and practices that are clearly not in the best interest of students.”

Knapp explained that he went to the district office to have two documents notarized for the retirement system.

“It is acceptable, and actually the responsibility of a school district, to provide the needed information,” he wrote, adding, “I was in and out of the (office) in a couple of minutes. It is sad that your vindictiveness in trying to hurt me in any way that you can supersedes what others would call common decency and professional obligation to a retiring employee.”

After receiving the email, Abate contacted board members to inquire how Knapp knew he had expressed concern about his visit to the district office.

Kroh replied that she had mentioned it to Knapp, a good friend, while visiting his wife at their home.

“He explained his purpose and I wondered how a citizen could be banned from public buildings,” she wrote.

Asked about the email exchange and whether Knapp’s visit to the school office violated the separation agreement, Abate said it did.

Abate calls pact’s lawyer

Upon learning of Knapp’s visit, Abate said, he immediately notified Jeffrey Litts, the Lancaster attorney hired by the board to negotiate Knapp’s resignation.

Abate said Litts contacted Knapp’s attorney and warned that if the former administrator violates the agreement again, the board would view it as a breach of contract.

 

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