Northeastern principal on leave as superintendents announce retirements
Two Northeastern School District administrators announced their retirements and a principal is on leave amid concerns about vandalism, violence and an oft-delayed renovation project at the high school.
In an email to parents, Superintendent Stacey Sidle announced that Northeastern Middle School Principal Peter Fernandez was on leave. No further information about Fernandez's status was available, and Sidle could not be reached for comment.
Sidle, meanwhile, submitted a retirement letter along with Randi Payne, the district's assistant superintendent, to the district's school board. According to an agenda for Monday's meeting, the board accepted both administrators' retirements on Feb. 27. Sidle's last day is Aug. 30, while Payne's is Jan. 1, 2024.
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Fernandez's leave came after parents, residents, a student and staff members told the school board during the Feb. 20 meeting about growing problems with bullying, violence and vandalism in the middle school.
One middle school student, Sydney Eschbach, told the school board that she was hit in the stomach area so hard she lost her breath. The student who hit her received two days of lunch detention. Another student later kicked her in the leg so hard she couldn’t walk without two friends helping her.
“It kind of scares me to think that other kids might be having this happen to them and not really doing nothing about it,” Eschbach said.
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At the hearing, President Mike Redding thanked those who spoke and said safety is the district’s first priority for staff and students.
“When it comes to safety … you should not be afraid to go to school,” he said. "I'm sorry. It should not happen."
He said the board is addressing the problem, but declined further comment.
This wasn’t the first time residents addressed the board. During a Feb. 6 meeting, board Vice President Tyler Kramlick said the board is aware of vandalism in the middle school bathrooms. Parents were concerned about the vandalism and cited a lack of transparency because they didn’t hear about it from the district until that meeting. They listed off damages they heard about, such as mirrors torn down or urine in the soap dispensers. Some were concerned after hearing that adults escort students to the bathrooms.
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Parents at the Feb. 20 meeting said they heard some students were using different methods to avoid using the bathroom during the day.
Kramlick told the residents that if the administration doesn’t address the problem accordingly, he will recommend policy and budget changes. The agenda for Monday's work session meeting includes a proposal to upgrade the cameras inside the middle school for "better resolution, student safety and surveillance."
Monday's 7 p.m. school board work session meeting will be streamed online at the district’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/@northeasternyorkschooldist447. Members of the public may attend in person at the administration office, 41 Harding St., Manchester.
— Reach Meredith Willse at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.