York Suburban board expects to name new superintendent within 2 weeks

Junior Gonzalez
York Dispatch

The York Suburban school board began charting a new course for the district on Monday, Sept. 25, following the sudden resignation of the superintendent and the mid-term departure of a board member.

Monday's board meeting began with a statement from board president Lynne Leopold-Sharp, who announced that the board would accept now-former Superintendent Shelly Merkle’s letter of resignation.

Her last day with the district will be Sept. 30, according to Merkle's resignation letter, which The York Dispatch obtained through a Right-to-Know request.

Minutes later, the board followed with a unanimous 8-0 vote to accept it, ending Merkle's 27 years with the district, starting as a guidance counselor.

In this file photo, York Suburban Superintendent Shelly Merkle gives an update on her district during a news conference regarding the Campaign for Fair Education Funding at the York City School administrative building in York City, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Board vice president Cathy Shaffer was the only board member to publicly thank Merkle for her service to the district.

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Merkle took a medical leave of absence starting Sept. 14, but on Monday, a few hours before the board meeting, she submitted her letter of resignation.

Former district Assistant Superintendent Patricia Maloney retired Sept. 15, but according to Leopold-Sharp, the dates of Maloney's and Merkle’s departures were coincidental.

Maloney announced her plan to retire during a board meeting in July.

Public comment: District resident and volunteer Jill Bryant appeared to be the only community member at Monday's meeting.

She spoke during the public comment period, saying she came as a “voice for the staff” and calling on the board to investigate the “bullying and oppression of the previous administration” over the past several years.

The York Suburban school board met for its regular meeting on Monday, September 25, 2017. Items voted on included the letters of resignation from former district superintendent Michele Merkle and former board member Scott Eden.

She urged the board to interview staff at the district about “things that were done to them,” including that they were “held back or tortured” under previous leadership.

No board members responded to the remarks, and after the meeting Leopold-Sharp declined to comment.

Board resignation: After discussion regarding Merkle ended, board matters moved toward finding a replacement for departed board member Scott Eden, whose Sept. 12 resignation letter also was approved unanimously Monday night.

His four-year term ends Nov. 30, 2019, according to Leopold-Sharp, who added that Eden cited “personal reasons” for his departure from the board.

Board members were split on how to name a new appointment for Eden’s departure, with four calling for a public application and interview process, while four other board members preferred to appoint John DeHaas, who served on the board for 12 years.

Shaffer said DeHaas has “extensive managerial and HR experience” and would serve as a good balance to a board that will see a drastic change in membership after municipal elections in November.

Emily Bates, Shaffer and Leopold-Sharp will all be ending their school board terms on Nov. 30.

After seeking counsel from district solicitor Brooke Say, the board moved to expedite a public application process.

The district has posted an opening of the vacant seat on its website. Applications will be accepted until Oct. 4, and a new board member will be appointed and sworn in Oct. 9.

For more information on the requirements responsibilities of being a board member, click here. To apply for the vacant seat, click here.

Merkle’s replacement also is expected to be named in the next two weeks, as a search for a “substitute superintendent” turns into a search for a permanent superintendent, according to a letter sent to parents and online on Monday, Sept. 25.

Five candidates have been contacted and a sixth has been identified for the position, the letter states.