Pleasant Valley superintendent speaks about state of the district
Pleasant Valley School District Superintendent David Piperato, who will be leaving for a job in Easton, reflected on his time with the school district recently and described the current state of affairs that his successor will find.
“I had a very positive experience here and I want the district to be successful,” Piperato said. “I am encouraged because we have a great leadership team in place who I feel like, regardless of who comes in as superintendent, that person can hit the ground running.”
The district is still trying to rebuild trust after the grand jury investigation from 2017 to 2018 that reported a culture of bullying in the Pleasant Valley administration and recommended criminal charges against former Superintendent Carole Geary and two others.
The administration has almost completely turned over since then, but community members who felt betrayed by the district are still wary of administration, Piperato said.
Piperato outlined ways in which administration can rebuild this trust: by including teachers and staff members in making decisions, following through on its promises, and communicating transparently to the community.
Total healing will understandably take time, Piperato said.
“(But) I do feel like we’ve rounded a corner … morale has improved, and people are feeling a sense of relief and achievement,” Piperato said.
Now is a time to focus on academic growth, Piperato said.
“I don’t think we’ve been able to be as focused on making academic gains as we should be because of all the other distractions, whether it be financial concerns from years ago to the grand jury investigation and the turnover of leadership,” Piperato said. “Now we’ve gotten past that, we have a new leadership team in place.”
“I think most of us would agree that our students perform well at Pleasant Valley, all things considered,” he continued. “We could do much better.”
The school district is already working toward this better performance. This year, it completed its Profile of a Graduate that describes its ideal high school graduate and started new Project Lead the Way classes at the high school level.
Last week, board Vice President Donna Yozwiak toured the first two classes in computer science and engineering.
“(The students) were very, very enthusiastic and energized, and they really like this problem-based curriculum,” Yozwiak said. “They are enjoying it immensely.”
This STEM curriculum is an innovative educational move for the district, Yozwiak said.
Piperato said his last day hasn’t been determined yet. He will leave the school district on or before Dec. 15, depending on the district’s needs.
As of last week, board President Susan Kresge wrote that she didn’t have any information yet about the time frame or process of hiring the next superintendent.