Weatherly’s PSSA policy sparks public comment
Public comment dominated the Weatherly Area School Board workshop last week.
Weatherly resident Michelle Gower spoke in protest of the district’s new policy prohibiting any student who opts out of the PSSA tests from being awarded principal’s honors. She said the policy is unfair to those students who achieved the academic requirements for the honor.
Tony DiSpirito, Pre-K-12 principal, defended the policy, citing the increase in students opting out of taking the Keystone and PSSA tests. When high-performing students do so, it affects the district’s overall results, he noted.
“We, as administrators, are judged on the results of these tests. I wish that wasn’t the case, but it is,” he said.
Gower remained opposed to the change.
A proposed change to the Multi Disabilities Students program came under fire, as well.
The program is designed to provide special needs students with the support they need to get an education in the district. There are three K-8 students in the program and one in the high school. The three K-8 students are helped through the CLIU, while the district provide’s the learning support for the high school student.
The district is seeking to have the CLIU take over that part of the program, as well.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to find certified staff,” said Superintendent Teresa Young. “The CLIU has the staff and isn’t constrained by a union contract.”
Tyree Harris spoke to the board about the program, asking if all resources had been tapped before making the proposed change to the MDS program. He also suggested that his family was told the program was being eliminated, which the superintendent and board President Girard Fewins vehemently denied.
Tempers flared when Harris accused the board and administration of not caring about special needs students. Fewins angrily denied the accusation during a brief shouting match between the two.
“We care about every student in this district,” Fewins shouted. “Don’t you accuse us not caring about the kids.”
Suzanne Lovitt, whose son is in the MDS program, spoke after the confrontation. Accompanied by her son, she pleaded with the board to keep his needs in mind when making any changes to the program and suggested that the CLIU resources weren’t always as good as those of the district’s in-house program.
Board members Chad Obert, William Knepper and Amy Potsko were absent from the meeting.