United Way announces former Red Lion superintendent's resignation

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

The United Way of York County announced Thursday that Scott Deisley has stepped down as its board chair, one day after Red Lion Area school officials confirmed that the former superintendent left the district amid an investigation of misconduct.

Anne Druck, the nonprofit's president, said Deisley resigned his post "to attend to personal issues." Its board would meet Monday, she added, and a successor would be named soon.

“United Way of York County firmly believes in holding all its community representatives to a high ethical standard,” Druck said.

Former Red Lion superintendent had shown 'unacceptable and hurtful behavior,' district officials say

Red Lion Area High School Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Deisley speaks during the open of the 81st Annual PASC State Conference at the high school in Red Lion, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The specifics of the allegations against Deisley remain shrouded in mystery. He'd planned to retire from the school district in January but was placed on leave in October and officially left Nov. 4.

Since rumors first began to circulate about Deisley's early departure, Red Lion school officials denied The York Dispatch's requests for comment as well as its Right-to-Know requests for records.

On Thursday, shortly before a school board meeting, Red Lion issued a statement that "an investigation has revealed behaviors including profane, vulgar and intimidating words and actions that constitute persistent and willful violation of School Law, District policy and his contract.”

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During Thursday's meeting, member Marc Greenly reiterated the board's statement but declined further comment. Other board members likewise refused comment.

York County School of Technology's joint operating committee, meanwhile, will meet Tuesday to name a new superintendent of record, replacing Deisley.

Dr. Robert Walker, second from left, flanked by his wife Gian Walker, left, and father-in-law John Gouker, of Red Lion, is applauded after being voted Red Lion Area School District’s new superintendent during the Red Lion Area School District’s Board of School Directors meeting at Red Lion Area Education Center in Windsor Township,Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.  Dawn J. Sagert photo

When reached at his home Oct. 13, Deisley said that "there will always be rumors" and declined further comment on the matter. He has not responded to subsequent requests for comment since the district confirmed the investigation.

As of Friday, the matter does not appear to have risen to the level of a civil or criminal complaint. Local authorities denied previous requests for comment, saying they do not comment on pending investigations. A Pennsylvania State Police spokesman said Friday that Deisley's status has not changed.

Deisley signed his retirement agreement Nov. 1 with his lawyer, Thomas Kelly, as his witness. The Red Lion board president and secretary signed it Nov. 3.

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According to the document, the district was to pay his salary and health care benefits through Nov. 4. He will not receive any severance payments. The district will not pay Deisley for his unused vacation, sick leave or any other fringe benefits. The status of Deisley's retirement benefits was unclear Friday.

The former superintendent will now not be eligible for any positions in the district, according to the retirement agreement. He also cannot be a contractor or employed by a contractor that services the district.

Based on the information the district had at the time it was signed, it would answer "no" on future sexual misconduct/abuse disclosure releases. The release, which specifically pertains to children, asks three questions about whether a person has been the subject of an abuse or misconduct investigation, if the person has been disciplined while allegations are pending and if their license or certificate has been suspended.

According to state regulations, if any new information comes forward after the document was signed, the district would notify Deisley and give him a chance to respond.

On Thursday, Red Lion named Robert L. Walker, a Conewago Valley School District assistant superintendent and 1998 Red Lion graduate, as the district’s next superintendent. Walker said his new role starts in February but the district and Walker are still working out the details. 

Deisley's mysterious departure did not compel much public interest at Thursday's meeting.

Instead, several public commenters focused their attention on transgender children.

“I come to you as a prudent man that foresees evil,” said one commenter, Eric Haywood, who demanded that the district review its policies regarding allowing transgender children to use bathrooms that match their gender.

Eric Haywood speaks about Title IX during the public comment portion of Red Lion Area School District’s Board of School Directors meeting at Red Lion Area Education Center in Windsor Township,Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.  Dawn J. Sagert photo

Another Red Lion resident, Ben Quesenberry, said the district has about six transgender students. The York Dispatch was not able to confirm that figure, but school board President Christine Crone noted that the figure equates to 0.012% of the entire student body.

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Crone said the board's policy committee plans to put together a public forum on the issue, with a date to be announced soon.

“We have heard you and we have been trying to work on things,” Crone said.

The next school board meeting is 7 p.m. Dec. 1 at 696 Delta Road, Red Lion. The meeting room has a 30-person capacity. The district also offers a Zoom link, which allows up to 500 participants.

— Reach Meredith Willse at mwillse@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.