Sam Sutton calls out York City district over alleged AD offer, withdrawal

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch
  • Sam Sutton, a former athletic director at New Hope Academy, claims he was offered the athletic director position.
  • Sutton claims a board vote on his hiring was removed at the last minute before the July 19 board meeting.

A former William Penn Senior High basketball star and Bearcat Hall of Famer is calling out the York City School District for allegedly offering him the athletic director position then rescinding the offer.

Sam Sutton, standing, speaks during public comment at a combined special and committee board meeting Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Sam Sutton, a 1997 graduate and former athletic director at New Hope Academy Charter School, addressed the board during the public comment portion of the Monday, Aug. 7, combined special and committee board meeting.

In his remarks, Sutton alleged that he was offered the position through both a text message and voicemail but that the agenda item on his hiring was removed before the board's voting meeting on Wednesday, July 19.

Sutton says he was notified at 4 p.m. the day before to be present at the board meeting but received another call on the morning of the meeting from district human resources director Robert Bernhard notifying him of his removal from the agenda.

Sutton added that he was told by Bernhard in an in-person meeting July 20 that the board removed him from the agenda because he disrespected a female school employee upon visiting William Penn Senior High School for a tour of the building.

He says the information from the employee was passed on to the board “without any fact-finding (and) without any discussions with me."

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Sutton said he wanted his name cleared after what he calls false allegations.

He added that the opportunity to lead athletics at the district was something he had wanted for a very long time.

“I felt that my life’s work has been building up to this moment ... I was very excited,” Sutton said.

Dr. Eric Holmes

Sutton said he recently spoke over the phone with a district administrator who told him the offer withdrawal was not made by the board but by district Superintendent Eric Holmes.

Sutton said he went through his interview process with “minimal information" and called the process “highly unprofessional.”

He also called out the way the district offered him the position.

“To receive an offer of this magnitude via text message is disgusting,” Sutton said.

Sutton ended his remarks by saying he hopes the district provides answers about how it dealt with the job offer.

“I’m still sitting in a daze figuring out what happened,” he said.

Response: After Sutton’s remarks, board President Margie Orr said district solicitor Jeff Gettle would respond on the board’s behalf.

York City School District Board President Margie Orr speaks during a special meeting regarding the future of Helen Thackston Charter School at the Administration Building in York City, Feb. 13, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“As you probably know, Mr. Sutton, personnel issues are private matters,” Gettle said.

“I’ll talk to President Orr and figure out how we’re going to address this,” he added.

In a phone call Tuesday morning, Sutton said he simply wanted to figure out what happened.

“If I wasn’t the right guy for the job, I can take that,” he said, but he added he did not want to be used as the scapegoat for HR issues.

He also elaborated on his comments from Monday night, saying Bernhard asked him about “the elephant in the room,” referring to the encounter with the high school employee.

Sutton said he asked the employee if he could tour the building. After the employee replied that he would need an escort, Sutton said he responded by saying, “Are there kids in school?"

He said that was the end of the interaction.

“Maybe there was some extra energy off of me,” he said regarding the way in which he responded. “I was just hired as the athletic director at the high school that changed my life.”

Sutton said he is now awaiting a response from Gettle on the matter and hopes he can get closure on the situation.

After the meeting, a district spokeswoman said it was a personnel issue and declined to comment.

Reached Tuesday afternoon, Orr also declined comment.