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Petition started to oust Lesisko

Parents fed up with the problems plaguing the Pleasant Valley Cyber Academy have created a petition calling for the resignation of Superintendent Lee Lesisko. The petition was created Tuesday and has 234 signatures as of Friday morning.

“It’s not that we don’t like him,” said Alice Wheelis, an alumna of Pleasant Valley High School, a parent with a child registered for the school district’s cyber academy, and one of the parents behind the petition. “He’s not made for this position.”

The comment for Lesisko to resign was originally suggested by a couple of parents at the school board meeting on Sept. 10, not Wheelis. She just followed through and created the petition on www.change.org.

“We want to be heard by the school board. They need to do something,” she said. “If the situation is not rectified, I know people who won’t send their children back to PV.”

Lesisko took over as superintendent of the Pleasant Valley School District in April. It is his first job as superintendent, but he has been with the school district for 27 years.

Before his appointment, Lesisko was the district’s director of technology since 2017 and the lead administrator of the Pleasant Valley Cyber Academy since 2012. From 2006 to 2012, he was the technology coordinator. He holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership and instructional technology.

Wheelis said she doesn’t believe him when he said that he couldn’t have foreseen the pandemic and the problems with the cyber academy.

“He worked for the cyber academy, so he knew what it could handle,” she said. “He was the director of the cyber academy and chose not to fill it.”

On Sept. 10, the school board was asked to change Lesisko’s former title to technology coordinator. It was approved. The position is unfilled.

Last year, the cyber academy had 215 students enrolled in it. As of July 1, there were 171, then the hybrid announcement for the next school year came out on July 16. By Aug. 4, enrollment increased to 329. As COVID-19 cases continued to increase nationwide, the cyber academy enrollment continued upward to 1,200 by Aug. 27, when Lesisko told the school district that the cyber academy couldn’t accommodate all of those seeking to be enrolled.

On Sept. 4, he told the school board that only about 800 students could be enrolled, because there were not enough supplies. The rest would have to come back into the school buildings and attend school through the hybrid model. Many of the families still did not know if their children were one of the 800 or one of the 400 that didn’t get in.

At the Sept. 10 school board meeting, when questioned, Lesisko admitted the families that had not made the 800-student cut had not yet been contacted.

School board President Donna Yozwiak said on Sept. 11 that several people were meeting the next day to get all of the supplies compiled, and families contacted. She also questioned the total number wanting to enroll, saying she thinks it is lower. Some families registered more than once.

Three weeks into the school year, families are still saying on social media that they haven’t been contacted and they don’t have supplies.

Others have received some of their books, but not all of them. And others say their children can’t log in to the system to begin their studies.

Comment after comment is being left on Facebook pages such as PV Venting and Concerns, and Pleasant Valley High School’s Facebook account, and parents have expressed frustration at the school board meetings.

“These kids were supposed to be getting an education and they’re not,” Wheelis said.

She said she doesn’t understand why the school district didn’t offer online-only five days a week as part of the hybrid plan, too. The students could follow along with their classmates, and instead of coming into the buildings when it was their turn for their last names, they just stay home. It wouldn’t have required any additional teachers. She said she thinks a lot of the parents who requested the cyber academy would have opted for that instead if it had been an option, but it wasn’t.

Lesisko had not responded to efforts to contact him at the time of this writing.