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South Eastern school board president blasts peers, resigns

James "Jim" Roberts

The president of South Eastern's school board resigned abruptly in May after accusing other board members of creating  chaos that, he said, has taken a toll on his health.

“Recent and past occurrences and a philosophy of leadership, management of the school board, along with hostile, unreliable, untrustworthy members, as well as diminished communication have hindered my ability to effectively lead this school board," he said at the board's May 7 meeting.

James Roberts read his resignation letter at the very end of the board's virtual committee meeting before immediately pounding his gavel to adjourn, leaving no time for comment.

The five-year board member did not call out members individually but alleged some of his fellow directors had contributed to an environment that was sometimes chaotic and unprofessional.

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Over the past couple months, he said, he has felt less effective in his ability to serve as president, and it has affected his health and his family.

"We were elected to provide the best educational environment for the students and parents of our district, and lately I’m not sure this is the case," he added.

Board members made no comments on Roberts' resignation at the following board meeting May 21 but accepted it unanimously. 

Board secretary and business manager Mary Childress read off a statement provided by Roberts during the public comment period that noted his wishes for a new president.

The president, chosen from sitting board members, needs to be able to keep his or her head when others do not and maintain professionalism and respect, he said.

"You can't be a bully and be president," Roberts said.

He added that the president also should not have a personal agenda — which he said some on the board have had in the past.

Board Vice President Brian Hoffman was chosen as the new board president and Ronald Huber as new vice president. 

Attempts to reach Roberts and several board members were not successful.

South Eastern School District is seeking applicants for Roberts' vacancy.

Roberts represented Region I of the district's three regions, with a term ending in 2023. He won one of the two open seats for that region in November's municipal election, along with fellow incumbent Carrie Traeger.

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Applicants must be 18 years of age, a resident of the district for at least a year and a current resident of Region I — which covers Hopewell Township, Stewartstown and Cross Roads.

Letters of interest and resumes should be addressed to the board and sent to the administration building: 377 Main St., Fawn Grove, PA 17321, or emailed to Porrovicchiom@sesd.k12.pa.us. before 4 p.m. Monday, June 1.

Interviews for the vacancy will be conducted by the board at its committee meeting 6:30 p.m. June 4.