Northeastern school board member resigns, accuses district of 'illegal and unethical' activity

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Chris Leh.

After making repeated allegations of illegal and unethical conduct against Northeastern School District officials, Christopher Leh has resigned from the school board, effective immediately. 

Leh sent his resignation letter to board Vice President Mike Redding on Friday. In the letter, he referenced his accusations as the reason for his resignation, saying that he did not want to participate in "something that is either unethical or illegal."

"I find the recent behavior of the leadership abhorrent and beyond belief," Leh said in the letter.

Board President Margie Walker said Monday morning she was not aware of Leh's resignation. 

Over the past two months, Leh made allegations during two board meetings, leading to several heated exchanges with Walker and district solicitor William Zee. At a board meeting April 5, Walker suggested “personal grievances” could be behind his allegations. 

"Stated simply, Mr. Leh has and continues to abuse his position as a member of the Board of School Directors for personal benefit," Walker said in an email April 9. 

Leh's personal history with the school board dates back to at least 2015, when then-Superintendent Shawn Minnich attacked Leh after bursting into the home of Minnich's ex-wife, now Leh's wife, Kathy. 

The board waited six months before terminating Minnich during a tearful meeting after the state suspended Minnich's teaching certificate, making him ineligible for the post. He eventually spent almost three months in prison for the assault, and Leh, who was not on the board at the time, criticized board members for hesitating to dismiss Minnich. 

More:Ex-Northeastern superintendent guilty of assault, making threats

More:Ex-Northeastern superintendent's victim found guilty of harassment

Former Northeastern School District Superintendent Shawn Minnich leaves the York County Judicial Center Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. He pleaded guilty to assaulting the boyfriend of his estranged wife. 
(Bill Kalina photo)

Reportedly still unhappy about the incident two years later, Leh himself was found guilty of harassing former board member Tyler Kramlick. Police said Leh's unwanted contact in 2017 partially had to do with his displeasure over the board's handling of Minnich. Leh was elected to the board in 2019. 

In addition, Kathy Leh filed a civil complaint against the district last year, alleging officials repeatedly harassed her over the course of several years in the wake of Minnich's assault. The case is still ongoing.

Leh has not shared details about his allegations, but he hinted they were linked to an Oct. 19 board meeting at which the board voted to appoint a new school psychologist, Melissa Sefchick, which Leh opposed. Kathy Leh worked for the district for 21 years as a social worker and a long-term substitute school psychologist. She started working as a school psychologist for the York City School District this year. 

Leh referenced the Oct. 19 decision in his resignation letter, alleging it was "a willful retaliation against an employee."

More:Northeastern board member: Peers breached legal, ethical boundaries

Kramlick, the former school board member, also filed nearly a dozen public records requests to the district between Feb. 8 and March 9, all of which involved Leh, the Oct. 19 school board meeting and the school psychologist position. 

Margie Walker

Kramlick's requests included emails sent to and from Christopher and Kathy Leh's accounts over the last year, legal fees and expenses associated with Kathy Leh while Christopher Leh served on the school board, records of the Oct. 19 board meeting and information about the hiring process for the school psychologist position.

The York Dispatch reached out to Kramlick, but he declined to comment. 

Both Kramlick and Kathy Leh are running for seats on Northeastern's school board in the same region, according to York County's primary candidates list. Each is listed as a candidate for two different seats in Region 1. 

According to the candidate list, five seats are up for grabs in the May 18 primary election, with no incumbents listed as a candidate — including Walker, whose seat is up for election. Tiffany Robyn Weaver is running in the same region as Kramlick and Kathy Leh. Jamie Lagna, Andrew Shaw and William John Henry Volkert V are running in a different region.

Walker has served on the board since 1998 and has been the board's president since 2012. Christopher Leh, in his resignation letter, said he considers it the "greatest accomplishment" in his political career that Walker will no longer hold a seat on the board. 

At recent meetings, Leh suggested his allegations relate to issues regarding transparency among board members, including Walker. 

Before the vote to appoint the new school psychologist on Oct. 19, Leh asked if any internal candidates applied for the position. District officials did not answer on the grounds that it was "confidential personnel information," but Leh said he also wasn't allowed to discuss the matter during the board's executive session earlier the same night. 

"You're providing guidance to me where I'm not allowed to talk about it anywhere, which creates a problem," Leh said. 

Leh also asked if the board follows any policies or contractual obligations that give preferential treatment to external or internal candidates when hiring. He claimed that the appointment violated a contract the board recently signed and asked the board to vote against the appointment, but he was ignored. The board also denied Leh's attempt to table the vote. 

Leh made several other accusations in his resignation letter, including that Zee threatened him with a "retaliatory lawsuit" after he asked questions about "exploding legal and settlement expenses" for the district, and that Walker held an executive session in February to discuss Leh without him present. 

Walker said in her April 9 email that the board has no knowledge of any illegal or unethical activity by the board or administration. Zee claimed in a March email statement that Leh had "direct conflicts of interest" that may contribute to his motivation behind the allegations, but he did not elaborate further. 

The York Dispatch reached out to Zee and Superintendent Stacey Sidle on Monday for comment on Leh's resignation, but neither could immediately be reached.