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Northeastern superintendent suspended amid charges
The Northeastern school board has suspended Superintendent Shawn Minnich nearly six months after he was charged in a domestic-violence incident, according to a statement on the district's website.
The statement makes no mention of the Dec. 4, 2015, incident at the home of Minnich's estranged wife. It cites a ruling by the Professional Standards and Practices Commission, which is an arm of the state Department of Education, to suspend his teaching certificate.
The Department of Education posted an official notification of the suspension of his certificate Thursday, noting "educator was criminally charged with aggravated assault" as the grounds for disciplinary action.
According to the district's statement, the school board will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2, to formally suspend Minnich and appoint an acting superintendent.
Farley Holt, who represents Minnich in the criminal case, said Minnich is disappointed that he can no longer provide services to the district.
"He understands the board was placed in a precarious position with regards to his employment and to take the action that they ultimately took," Holt said.
"He wishes to thank the board for all the support they've provided him in the past and sticking by him for as long as they could," Holt said.
The board and its solicitor, attorney Greg Gettle Sr., have repeatedly refused comment to The York Dispatch about Minnich's criminal case or its ramifications. Gettle did not immediately return a call for comment Friday afternoon.
The background: The commission's vote came after a two-day hearing April 4 and 5. The state Department of Education was seeking the suspension of Minnich's teaching certificate and his employment eligibility, his attorney Joe Korsak has said.
Korsak declined comment Friday on the suspension.
Minnich, 44, of Nursery Road in Conewago Township, is accused of bursting into the East Manchester Township home of his estranged wife, Kathy Minnich, and physically assaulting her boyfriend, Christopher Leh, on Dec. 4. He also is accused of threatening to kill the man, Northeastern Regional Police have said.
Minnich remains free on bail, charged with aggravated assault, burglary, making terroristic threats, simple assault, criminal trespass, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and harassment.
He maintains his innocence and is a great superintendent, Holt has said.
The superintendent's felony aggravated assault charge — which wasn't added until his Feb. 3 preliminary hearing — is among a list of criminal charges in the state Department of Education's school code that spurred the department to seek discipline, according to Korsak.
"It's only the aggravated assault charge that gives the department the jurisdiction to get involved in the case," Korsak said after the hearing. "I can tell you right now he's as clean an educator as I've ever seen. He's been a superintendent for three years, he's one of the youngest in the county, he's highly regarded by his board, and yesterday I heard nothing but the highest praise for his talents and abilities."
Korsak added he's seen nothing to suggest the school district's reputation is being sullied and noted that the alleged incident occurred off campus and was directed toward Kathy Minnich's boyfriend.
At the end of the two-day hearing, Korsak requested the case be dismissed, he said. The request was made to preserve Minnich's legal rights, as the officer who presided over the hearing was instructed only to take testimony — not to issue a ruling, according to Korsak.
Holt said with regard to Minnich's criminal case, they are just waiting.
"We're all going to wait and see how that works itself out," he said.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.