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Pleasant Valley board split over Piperato leaving early

Published October 12. 2019 05:48AM

The decision of whether or not to make Superintendent David Piperato stay in office until December or let him leave Nov. 1 split the Pleasant Valley School Board 5-4. The early leave won out.

“This is too important of a position for us to rush through,” said school board Treasurer Laura Jecker.

She received support from school board Director Leonard Peeters, who agreed with her that the vote to let him leave early was rushed.

“I feel we are deliberately going too fast,” he said.

Jecker said she thought Piperato should stay on until Dec. 15, instead of allowing him to resign and leave early. The uncertainty of who will lead the school district is hurting the staff morale, she said. Having him stay while they gather potential candidates could provide some stability.

The school board faced a similar problem when they took a vote on whether or not to hire a second assistant to the superintendent.

The difference between an assistant superintendent and an assistant to the superintendent is who they report to, board President Susan Kresge said after the meeting.

An assistant superintendent reports to the school board, while an assistant to the superintendent reports to the superintendent, she said.

Again, Jecker disagreed with the proposal.

“We have more administrators than we need. … The district is top heavy.”

Director Kenneth Cocuzzo said the grand jury report pointed out that there was a lack of accountability in the school district in a past administration. He thinks having two assistants to the superintendent shows the district is working on that problem.

“Accountability is the number one issue with this,” he said. “This is an internal restructuring, not padding.”

Director David Wunder supported him, but for another reason.

“We are constantly filling holes,” he said about the number of employees who leave. “It’s needed, desperately needed.”

Director Robert Serfass said the position of director of operations was being eliminated, so hiring a second assistant is not adding to the number of administrative professionals in the school district. This new position would take on the responsibilities of the director of operations and some new ones.

Again, Peeters supported Jecker’s position, agreeing that there are too many administrative people.

The board voted 5-4 in favor of hiring a second assistant to the superintendent.

Kresge said Dr. Margaret Vitale will be offered the position titled assistant to the superintendent of operations with an income of $115,000, pro rated. Vitale is currently the principal at Chipperfield Elementary School in the Stroudsburg Area School District.

After the vote, Piperato told the board that for the additional $20,000 for the wages of a second assistant, the district is getting a needed employee. He suggested the board look to trim overages in the number of specialized professional staff.

Piperato also said the second assistant position was he suggested to him by the board. It wasn’t his idea.

Upset by the votes, board member Russell Gould said the early resignation of Piperato was discussed at an executive session Tuesday and he thought they were in agreement. Now, some spoke out against it.

“I’m just tired of people saying one thing, and it’s not accurate. They’re trying to mislead the public, because this was discussed.”

I am perplexed as to how 5 members of the Pleasant Valley School Board are interpreting the Monroe Grand Jury Report. On page 105 of this report, it is recommended that the Director of Support Services, a position previously held by Josh Krebs, be eliminated. Why are these members trying to recreate this job with a new title? I am aware that Cocuzzo, Serfass and Gould will be leaving their seats in December. Do they understand their decision to create this position will effect taxpayers for years to come?
Listen to the video. It said his contract states he must give 90 days notice or a time agreed to by the board. There could have been a better date than Nov.1 so the district does not have to rush to put just anyone in there. The same 5 are always pushing through items and it is not always good for the district. Maybe Nov.30 would been better.

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