Northeastern's ex-superintendent seeks early parole

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Northeastern School District's former superintendent is asking a judge to grant him early parole on his six-month county prison sentence.

Shawn Minnich's attorney filed a petition Feb. 9 seeking early parole because York County Prison has not allowed Minnich to participate in its outmate work-release program.

Shawn Minnich

Although the ex-superintendent is being housed with other work-release inmates, he is not allowed to leave the facility, defense attorney Chris Ferro said.

York County spokesman Mark Walters said the only information he's authorized to release about Minnich's status is that he has been classified to minimum security.

Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner is scheduled to hear arguments on the issue at a hearing set for Monday, Feb. 26.

The issue of whether Minnich is eligible to participate in the work-release program has been ongoing for months.

A hearing about the issue was averted in November after Ferro and prosecutors met with Bortner in a closed-door meeting, after which Ferro said Minnich would reapply for work release.

More:Suburban's ex-superintendent to avoid conviction

'Disproportionate': That happened, but Minnich continues to be denied, the petition states.

"This term of constant confinement is disproportionate and significantly more punitive than the original sentence that this court imposed on the defendant at the time of his guilty plea," Ferro wrote in the petition.

Part of Minnich's negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors was that he would be allowed in the work-release program, according to Ferro.

"He is the most worthy candidate for work release I've represented in my career," Ferro told The York Dispatch in November. "If this guy doesn't get work release, no one deserves it."

Minnich began serving his sentence Dec. 6. His minimum term of confinement, not including "good time," is set to end June 3, according to Ferro,

The petition states Minnich would be employed "in the financial services industry" if released.

More:Ex-Northeastern superintendent heading to prison in 2 weeks

More:Ex-Northeastern superintendent granted prison stay

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

The background: Minnich, 46, of Nursery Road in Conewago Township, pleaded guilty Oct. 3 to simple assault, making terroristic threats and two counts of reckless endangerment.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to six to 23 months in prison and six years of probation, ordered to undergo mental-health and drug and alcohol evaluations and ordered to follow through with any medical recommendations from those evaluations.

According to preliminary-hearing testimony, Minnich burst into ex-wife Kathy Minnich's East Manchester Township home on Dec. 4, 2015, threw her against a wall and attacked her boyfriend, Christopher Leh, who was on the phone with 911.

Leh testified at Shawn Minnich's preliminary hearing that he, Kathy Minnich and the Minnichs' two children hid in a back bedroom before the superintendent kicked in the front door.

"He ran full force at me and knocked the glasses off my face and the phone from my hand," Leh said during the February 2015 hearing, adding that Shawn Minnich told him, "I'm going to f—ing kill you."

'I'm going to die': Leh said he used his right arm to try to keep Shawn Minnich at bay, adding that Minnich repeatedly asked Leh to shoot him.

"He was trying to punch me. ... He was attacking me," Leh said. "He had me up against the wall. ... He (was) squeezing my throat with his hand. ... At that point I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to die.'"

Instead, a neighbor interceded and took Minnich to the ground until police arrived, according to Leh.

Minnich remained superintendent for about six months after being charged.

Northeastern School District officials and their solicitor ignored repeated requests from The York Dispatch to discuss the situation.

The school board eventually terminated him in a tearful meeting after the state suspended his teaching certificate, making him ineligible to remain in his job.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.