Upper Perkiomen School District is again searching for a superintendent after the school board voted 7-1 to accept the resignation of Dr. Beth Yonson at last Thursday’s special meeting.
Yonson, who was two years into a five-year contract, resigned as of Dec. 2 due to an “unspecified medical condition,” according to a press release issued by the district late last month. Yonson will be on medical leave until she officially retires June 30, 2014.
According to her separation and release agreement obtained by the Town and Country, Yonson was permitted to work off-campus from Dec. 2-13, including attending a Wharton School leadership course already reserved for Dec. 9-12, at the district’s expense, not including travel reimbursements.
She will reportedly then exhaust her 26 paid sick days and 14 unused vacation days, at which time she will be on sick leave until June. The district is solely responsible to pay Yonson on her sick leave, per state school code. The estimated cost of the expense to the district is $59,000.
The agreement goes on to state Yonson will continue to receive healthcare and medical benefits until June 30, 2014 but will not be entitled to those benefits after her retirement, as was provided in her contract.
The document stipulate s that Yonson will not be allowed on district property after Dec. 2 except with written permission from the school board. She and the district also agreed that there are no negative marks in her personnel file, nor will there be any placed there.
The agreement also says any claims against the district, including any age discrimination or disability suits, are waived by Yonson. The Town and Country was unable to discern whether or not any claims were made against the district, as the PA Human Relations Commission is allowed to deny access to those records under the federal Right to Know Law.
District officials couldn’t comment on the agreement per confidentiality provisions in it. Yonson signed the document Dec. 19.
At the board meeting, Director Margie Gehlhaus voted against the measure, saying that she accepts Yonson’s departure but not portions of the agreement. Director John Gehman was absent.
The board subsequently voted to name Assistant Superintendent Dr. Fran Leskowicz substitute superintendent until June 30, 2014.
During a public comment period, East Greenville Mayor Ryan Sloyer stated concerns about how much the agreement would cost taxpayers. Debbie Weeks of Upper Hanover Township asked if the district had any recourse to recoup the money they spent on hiring a consulting firm to find Yonson.
Board President Bill Scott said unfortunately there was nothing the board could do as the firm was out of business and the consultant himself died.
“Have we considered reevaluating how we write our contracts, compensation terms, accountability for pay, structures, anything since we are in a position to start again?” Weeks asked.
“I think anytime we negotiate a contract with any of our administrators, either the Act 93, teachers union or a separate contract, with some administrators, I think we look at the contract,” Scott said. “We are always trying to do what’s best for the taxpayers.”
Weeks questioned the length of superintendent contracts offered by the district, but Scott said the length of three or five years is mandated by state law. He said the district is involved in “self-reflection” on the matter.
Weeks went on to suggest Upper Perkiomen may need to restructure the administration and consider that a district Upper Perk’s size may not need an assistant superintendent at all, a point Scott strongly disagreed with.
“Not only do we need an assistant superintendent but we may need another administrator to help out at the central office. But that’s my opinion,” he said.
In other district news, Green Lane resident Hugh Forsythe thanked the board for alleviating the fourth-grade overcrowding at Marlborough Elementary as has been a point of contention for the past few months. Class sizes had reached 31 students in two out of the three classrooms.
“I’d like to commend Leslie [Motruk, principal] and the staff at Marlborough for being team players and getting it done,” Scott said, noting a joint effort with administrators.
Just how the fourth-grade classrooms were reportedly restructured with existing staff was not addressed at the meeting and Motruk did not return a phone call on the matter. Schools were closed starting Monday for the holiday break.
Scott also announced the board will be looking to approve Rob Carpenter as the new principal at Upper Perkiomen High School at next month’s regular board meeting. Carpenter currently serves as an assistant principal at the school.