PV reorganization ends badly
Panther Valley School Director Mickey Angst, upset that the public meeting was being led by interim President Anthony DeMarco, left the meeting after a heated debate.
After one Panther Valley school director resigned, another left during an executive session and three others walked out at the start of the public session, the four remaining board members on Thursday were unable to act on anything but one agenda item.
The saga is expected to continue when the board meets again at 7 p.m. Dec. 20.
Because they lacked a quorum, school directors were able only to accept the resignation of Anthony Pondish, a Democrat first elected in 2001.
The reason for his departure was not made clear. The board has 30 days to appoint a replacement. After that, a Carbon County judge may make the choice for them.
That left board members Jeff and Michelle Markovich, who are husband and wife; David Hiles; Anthony DeMarco; Irene Genther; Koreen Nalesnik; Mickey Angst and Bill Hunsicker.
The trouble started at a reorganization meeting held prior to the executive session.
That session, called to swear in new members and choose officers, ended badly.
With Pondish gone, the board tied 4-4 (Angst, Genther, Nalesnik and Hunsicker vs. the Markovichs, Hiles and DeMarco) on a president and vice-president, leaving the board without either. That left interim President DeMarco, chosen to guide the reorganization until a president or vice-president was selected, with the job of overseeing the rest of that meeting and the regular public meeting to follow.
No one would accept the job of board secretary if that meant taking minutes. Angst has contended that past minutes were inaccurate and that officials refused to correct them.
Hiles first nominated Angst, who declined because his hearing is impaired.
Genther asked business manager Kenneth Marx Jr. to do the job, but he demurred. Angst moved that the board order Marx to take the minutes.
Marx did offer to record votes and sign documents. However, his job description would have to be changed before he took on his new duties.
Hiles then nominated Genther, who declined.
In the end, the minutes were kept by tape recorder.
The officers' seats are expected to be appointed after Pondish's replacement is named.
The dissension spilled over into the regular public meeting.
Hunsicker left during an executive session sandwiched between the reorganization and regular meetings, leaving the Angst, Genther and Nalesnik faction opposing the Markovich, Hiles and DeMarco faction.
Genther challenged the legality of holding the regular meeting sans a president and vice-president. Solicitor Robert T. Yurchak affirmed that the interim president presides in the absence of a president/vice president.
DeMarco held his ground, prompting Genther, Angst and Nalesnik to leave.
The discussions were so barbed that Genther at one point urged the opposing faction to stop needling Angst, who has trouble following discussions and actions.
"Be kind," she admonished them.
As soon as the three left, the four remaining board members immediately elected Jeff Markovich president.
With fewer than half the members present, the board could only accept Pondish's resignation.
Other agenda items had included a motion that Superintendent Rosemary Porembo, and all administrative and high school office personnel have no contact with Angst pending the outcome of allegations he has made against the school district.
Angst, in his online blog, has suggested that there have been improprieties of a sexual nature within the school district.
He said outside the meeting room that he has reported these to Summit Hill police. A borough officer attended the meeting Thursday.
The agenda items also included a motion to ratify and approve placing an unidentified employee on a one-month paid administrative leave, retroactively from Nov. 21 to Dec. 21.
No details were available as to who the employee is and why he or she was disciplined.