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Angst in hot water

Published March 02. 2013 09:02AM

As the Panther Valley school board awaits a Carbon County judge's ruling as to whether School Director Roy Angst should be allowed to attend executive sessions, Angst has found himself again fallen from the administration's good graces.

The court ruling is the result of the board's action to bar Angst from executive sessions due to his alleged leaks of confidential information through his online blog, which he denies.

After Thursday's public school board meeting, board President Jeff Markovich released a letter from Superintendent Rosemary Porembo to Angst. The letter had to do with a visit Angst made to the elementary school on Tuesday.

At the meeting, Angst had said he was at the elementary school to "count the trailers," referring to the temporary classrooms in use there. He needed the information, he said in a telephone interview Friday, in order to see if a bond refinancing could be used to build classroom space.

But Angst violated three school district policies while there, Porembo wrote.

Porembo's letter, also signed by Markovich, was dated Feb. 28. Porembo wrote that she received a complaint from a fourth-grade teacher who said Angst had no visitor's badge while on school grounds.

In the telephone interview, Angst stridently denied the accusation.

"It starts with a lie. I needed to be sure how many trailers we have down there. I went down about the time school was closing and parked in a legal parking spot near the trailers," he said.

He decided he should register with the office, and so walked around the school to the front doors and rang the buzzer to be let in, and told them who he was and that he wanted to go count the trailers.

But, Angst insisted, no one responded. He tried again, but again with no response, and then tried to open the locked doors. He said he asked another man to also try to open them.

Then, Angst said, he went around back to where his car was parked to count the trailers. A school district security guard came around to tell him there was a complaint that he had failed to identify himself.

"This is a bunch of b-t," Angst said he told the guard.

Angst said he could have counted the trailers from any of several vantage points without going onto school property, but that he had tried to register in order to follow procedure. He said the guard helped him count the seven trailers and 12 classrooms they contain.

He said he always signs in when he visits the middle and high schools, "but they wouldn't let me. This is all part of the effort to harass me," he said. "I did not refuse to identify myself or follow whatever rules they have. I tried to register as a visitor to count the trailers."

Angst described Porembo's letter as "spite work" in response to his blog.

Porembo's letter detailed Angst's transgressions.

"A visitor badge is a symbol all employees recognize to represent a person who has been cleared by the office to have access to our campus," Porembo wrote. "(The teacher) also stated that you were in a discussion with our security guard in which you used profanities. She approached you and asked you to stop with the profanities as students may be headed in your direction."

Porembo then outlined school district policies she said Angst had violated. Among them are that the "powers of the Board of School Directors are not vested in the individual board member. No such individual is authorized to act on behalf of the board to carry out any of the board's authorized powers, except for those acts stated in law."

Also, board members who want to visit schools or classrooms must first notify the superintendent, and then make arrangements through the school's principal.

"Such visits will be regarded as informal expressions of interest in school affairs, and not as inspections or visits for supervisory or administrative purposes. Official visits by board members will be carried on only under board authorization, and with the full knowledge of staff, including the superintendent, principals, and other supervisors."

The third violation involved "Leading with respect and taking full responsibility for board activity and behavior," Porembo wrote.

"Board members should work together in a spirit of harmony, respect, and cooperation, despite differences of opinion. individuals have no legal authority outside the meetings of the board, and should conduct their relationships with all stakeholders and media on this basis," she wrote. "We will not use our positions as school directors to benefit ourselves or any individual or agency."

Porembo went on to outline security procedures in place at each building, and detailed the Pennsylvania School Board Association's code of conduct for school directors.

She ended her letter with a warning.

"In the future, you need to contact the superintendent prior to your visit to any school campus. The superintendent will inform the proper administrator of the date and time of your arrival. You will sign in, secure a visitor's badge, and you will be escorted by the principal or his/her designee," Porembo wrote.

"If you fail to follow the policies and safety procedures of the Panther Valley School Board, the local police will be alerted through the 911 system and they will be informed to remove you from the campus. You will be treated as an intruder."

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