Wednesday, August 24, 2016

With Feola Departure, Pottsgrove in Holding Pattern

Well, the somewhat inevitable happened Tuesday night.

Alerted by The Sanatoga Post last week (and subsequently The Mercury), no one was surprised at Tuesday night's Pottsgrove School Board meeting to hear board president Rick Rabinowitz reading a statement regarding Superintendent Shellie Feola's departure.

If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is:

It was, as you might expect, very matter-of-fact, as these personnel matters so often are.

But, as some speakers suggested Tuesday night, this personnel matter was personal too.

Former board president Mike Neiffer seemed to think it goes back to the decision to re-organize Pottsgrove's elementary schools into grade centers.

As Assistant Superintendent at the time, Feola was the face of that unpopular initiative, even though it was the brainchild of former superintendent Brad Landis and the school board.

Or it may have been the black eye the district got over her involvement in the futile effort to secure signatures on a nominating petition for former board member Ted Coffelt, and the investigation which followed.

There may be other reasons.

Not being privy to closed-door executive sessions where personnel matters are discussed, and given that the separation agreement prevents Feola from speaking about it, we may never know.

Feola has always seemed to me to be a person who likes things a certain way, her way, which is not in any way a comment on her competence, which always seemed above average to me.

But perhaps that tendency was in conflict with board members who have the same tendency. Who can say?

Whatever the reason, she had a rough ride, more so since the new board majority took their seats nine months ago.

Who can forget this combative exchange between Feola and board member Bill Parker at a board meeting in June?:

But Feola had her supporters, two of whom came forward publicly Tuesday to praise her.

And they were in a position to know. Mike Neiffer and Scott Fulmer are both former Pottsgrove School Board presidents.

Here is some of what they had to say:

In the end, things have to move forward.

Assistant Superintendent William Shirk, is now also Interim Superintendent William Shirk, and will be for a while.

Board member Bill Parker's motion to immediately begin the process of searching for Feola's replacement only won one other vote -- Patricia Grimm -- who also was the only board member to make the futile gesture of voting against accepting Feola's resignation.

Board President Rick Rabinowitz argued -- apparently without irony -- that the district needed "stability" ... this after coming to "mutual agreement" to have the superintendent leave three weeks before the start of school.

Here are the Tweets and video from Tuesday's brief board meeting.

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