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Fish parts ways with Lehighton school district

Lehighton Area School District and its superintendent look ready to split ways at the end of the month.

According to an agenda posted for Monday’s special board meeting, directors will be voting on a separation and release agreement with Dr. Christina Fish, effective May 31.

“After much consideration and discussion, the Lehighton Area School District Board of Directors and Dr. Christina Fish have mutually agreed to amicably end their contractual agreement,” the agenda item states. “Dr. Fish expresses her sincere gratitude to the Lehighton students and families who made her feel welcome. She also thanks the teachers, support staff and the administrative team who have made her tenure successful. The Lehighton School Board thanks Dr. Fish for her service and wishes her continued success in her future endeavors.”

The separation agreement between Fish and Lehighton was not publicly available as of Friday morning.

The board on Monday will also be acting on the hiring of John W. Corby as acting superintendent at a contracted rate of $680 per full day as of June 1.

Fish was hired in June 2022 to a contract running through Aug. 31, 2025. According to the contract, Fish, who had spent the prior 12 years as Central Columbia’s director of pupil services/special education, made $132,500 in her first year with Lehighton. She also received a $7,500 signing bonus. She was set to receive a 3% increase in each of the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years.

Fish’s hiring didn’t come completely void of controversy.

Then director Walter Zlomsowitch voted no and resigned his position on the board later in the meeting.

“I thought when we were first sitting down to try to find a replacement, the goal was to find an experienced superintendent,” Zlomsowitch said. “That was my thought but I guess it was just an assumption.”

If hired, Corby will be doing his second stint as Lehighton’s acting superintendent. The board of directors brought him after terminating the contract of Jonathan Cleaver, who had been superintendent for nine years, in December 2020. Directors at the time alleged previous boards approved illegal contract extensions. Two days later, Cleaver filed a lawsuit against the district alleging breach of contract. Lehighton settled with Cleaver last year and paid him $30,000.

Fish’s departure will leave Lehighton without several full-time administrators.

Assistant to the Superintendent Mary Figura is retiring effective June 4. Former Business Manager Edward Rarick resigned in January. Rarick had been with the district since November 2020 and his contract was set to expire on June 30.

Board President Jeremy Glaush said Rarick admitted to engaging in inappropriate conduct, but Rarick said his decision to resign was sparked by board inaction.

“The impetus for my resignation was definitely a result of the board’s inaction under provisions of my contract as well as its lack of desire in continuing our relationship,” Rarick said. “Specifically article 14 and article 5, which stated at least annually I was to be informed of any perceived inadequacies or have a right to respond to any investigations, none of which took place.”

Dr. Christina Fish