Tredyffrin Township

Easttown Township Supervisor Appointment Goes to Local Attorney Not Third Place Finisher

At Easttown Township Board of Supervisor meeting last night, the board vacancy was on the agenda. The supervisor appointment was announced and it did not go to Michael Wacey (D) who received the third highest number of votes in the November election.  Rather, the decision was to appoint Republican Karl Romberger, an attorney to the Board of Supervisors.

Although the supervisor appointment was to be made by the four remaining members of Easttown Township’s Board of Supervisors (all Republicans), it should be noted that they were split in their decision with Jim Oram and Betsy Fadem voting for Michael Wacey and Marc Heppe and Chris Polites voting for Karl Romberger.  In the case of a tie, 2-2, Easttown’s Vacancy Committee (Kim Richards) was to cast the deciding vote.

After I wrote the initial post on this issue, I was contacted by a member of the Easttown Township Democratic Committee – she wanted to explain the timing of Brandon Adams departure, the election results, etc. I asked her if it was true that Mr. Adams was aware (prior to the General Election) that he would not be able to serve if he were elected. I had previously heard this information and wanted to verify and she said yes, that his company had been acquired and that employees were not permitted to serve in this capacity. Fair enough; through no fault of his, the candidate would not be able to serve and it was too late to have his name removed from the ballot prior to the election.

What I did not understand (and stated it to the Easttown Dem representative during our phone call) was why didn’t either the candidate or his political party make a public statement prior to the election to notify the voters.  All voters may not have received the message prior to the election but it certainly would have been a more open and transparent way to handle the situation. In my opinion, had the public known that Brandon Adams could not serve if elected, it is quite possible that Democrat Michael Wacey would have moved into second place when the votes were counted and would now be sitting on the Board of Supervisors.  (I did not want to mention this point on until after the Easttown Board of Supervisors had made their decision so as not to taint their decision in advance.)

Do I think that Michael Wacey should have been chosen as the replacement supervisor? Yes. His running for  public office proved his interest in sitting on the Board of Supervisors and he received nearly 1,400 votes. But at the same time, I hold the Easttown Township Democratic Committee somewhat responsible for the outcome of the situation.

Good for Betsy Fadem and Jim Oram, both Republicans, who stepped up and voted to appoint Democrat Michael Wacey, rather than letting partisan politics govern their decision. And lastly, congratulations to Karl Romberger on his appointment to Easttown Township Board of Supervisors.

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The Votes from Election Day 2017 are Counted — But Easttown Township is Looking for a Replacement Supervisor!

When you turned the calendar to 2018, you probably thought that Election Day 2017 was finally in the rear view mirror.  Not so in Easttown Township.  Although the election results are in, the township finds itself looking for a replacement supervisor.

On Election Day, Easttown Township residents were voting for two supervisors – four candidates appeared on the ballot, two Republicans and two Democrats. When the votes were counted, incumbent Betsy Fadem (R) received the most votes, followed by Brandon Adams (D).  Michael Wacey (D) received the third highest and Fred Pioggia (R) the fourth highest number of votes.  The supervisor seats went to the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes – in this case, Fadem and Adams.

With the New Year, Fadem continues to serve on the board of supervisors with Adams set to begin his first term.  That is, until the residents learned Brandon Adams cannot serve – apparently his employer was acquired by a company (since the election?) that prohibits his serving in local government.

This is an unusual situation and there does not appear to be an automatic process to fill the vacancy. Although there isn’t an automatic process, wouldn’t it just make sense for the vacancy to go to the person whom received the third highest number of votes, which in this case was Michael Wacey.  Both Democrats, it would seem a reasonable solution for Wacey to step in as supervisor for vacating Brandon Adams. Of course, that solution is only viable if Michael Wacey was available and willing to serve but according to the agenda from the January 2 meeting of the Board of Supervisors he is.

Wacey read the following statement at the January 2, 2018 meeting which was provided to the township in advance:

My name is Michael Wacey and I live at Beaumont Road, Berwyn. I want to thank the Easttown Board of Supervisors for all the time and careful thought that they put into their work. We are very lucky to have this Board to manage the affairs for our township. In the fall, I ran for Easttown Township Supervisor and came in Third. Ms. Betsy Fadem, an incumbent appointed Supervisor, came in first and Mr. Brandon Adams came in second. Mr. Adams will most likely resign on January second rather than take the office. He is doing this for personal reasons beyond his control. As the third-place finisher in November, the citizens of Easttown would reasonable expect this board to appoint met to fill the vacancy. The board has met with Mr. Adams. I have express to the board, in writing, my desire to serve the people of Easttown. As I see it, the board has three options in 15 days: 1) Appoint me in recognition of the wishes of the Easttown voters; 2) Appoint someone else such as Mr. Pioggia, the four-place candidate in November. Or someone who did not run; 3) Ignore the voters and conduct a search and appoint someone who did not run in November. As this directly affects me, I am here tonight to ask the board to let the citizens of Easttown know what the Board plans are.

The day following the meeting, on January 3, 2018, the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors was posted on the township website as follows:

Easttown Township seeks applicants for consideration of appointment to the Board of Supervisors. The term for this appointment is for two years, expiring on December 31, 2019. Interested residents should send a letter of interest/resume to Township Manager, Dan Fox, via email by end of business day on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.

The process for how the township would fill the supervisor vacancy was not obvious from the press release (above) on the township website. However, if you look at the meeting agenda of January 2, you find the following explanation of the selection process to fill the supervisor vacancy by Easttown Township Board of Supervisor Chairman James Oram :

The Board vacancy occurs if the elected official, Mr. Adams, announces his intention not to serve at the Board meeting on January 2, 2018. If this vacancy does occur, the Township will begin accepting resumes from interested candidates for one month beginning on January 3, 2018. If the Board cannot agree on an appointment for this vacancy, a fifth vote will be cast by the member of the Vacancy Committee.

According to the notice on the township website, today, January 10, 2018, is the last day to receive applications for the supervisor vacancy.

I know that the four remaining members of the Easttown Township Board of Supervisors are trying to do the right thing, especially given that the selection process to fill the vacancy is not automatic. However, here’s my vote to keep it simple and drama-free by appointing Michael Wacey as the replacement supervisor.  Wacey received the third highest number of votes in November and has stated that he is willing to serve. This should be an easy, uncomplicated decision.

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A New Year — Swearing In of Tredyffrin Supervisors and TE School District Projected $6.8M Budget Imbalance & Discussion of 5-Year Superintendent Contract

A New Year … and so it begins.  This is the time of year when we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new; to review 2017 and judge whether we are better or worse off than we were 12 months ago.

Whether you were delighted with the politics of 2017 or devastated, we can all look forward to expressing ourselves in 2018 (and hoping that it will make a difference).  We live in challenging times but staying informed and engaged is the catalyst that makes this grand American experiment work.

Starting off the new year, is the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting tonight at 7 PM. The 2018 organizational meeting, will elect the Board chair and vice chair — for 2017,  Republicans Trip Lukens and Sean Moir served as chair and vice chair of the board.

The November election in Tredyffrin saw a historic increase in the number of Democrats serving on the Board. The Republicans still retain a 4-3 majority, including Paul Olson, the longest serving supervisor in the history of the township.  Included on the agenda tonight is the swearing in of new supervisors – Matt Holt and Kevin O’Nell will be sworn in for their 1st term and Murph Wysocki will be sworn in for this 2nd term.  Best wishes for a successful year to all seven supervisors!

On the TE School Board side, the school board starts off the new year tonight with their January school board meeting at 7:30 PM at Conestoga. Click here for agenda.

Two priority discussion items on the agenda — first, the Board will consider options to close the projected budget imbalance of approximately $6.8M for the 2018-2019 school year.  Sounds like the start to tax increase discussion to me.  For the record, TE School District residents have seen their property taxes increase for 13 straight years.  You would have to go back to 2004-05 for the last zero tax increase year.

The second priority discussion is the reappointment of Dr. Rich Gusick as Superintendent of the District.  Originally, Gusick was given a 3-year contract, July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018. The superintendent agreement under discussion tonight is for 5 years, July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2023.

Much has happened in the District in 2017 including ” a federal lawsuit against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and Amy Meisinger, principal of Conestoga High School alleging administrators and teachers at the High School created and tolerated a culture that emboldened Arthur Phillips, a 67-year old instructional aide, to repeatedly sexually abuse a female student.”  Phillips was sentenced to 10-20 years for his criminal action and the Federal lawsuit remains open against the District.

Also in 2017, the public learned that Christine Towers, a former teacher’s aide and coach at Conestoga was sentenced to 11 to 23 months for a sexual relationship with a 16-year old learned disabled student at Conestoga that she tutored.

In May of 2017, Tom Batgos, the assistant Conestoga High School football coach fired by the District in the aftermath of the alleged hazing and sexual assault filed a lawsuit against District administrators, including Dr. Gusick citing defamation of character, misrepresentation, fraud, improper termination, etc. and seeks damaged of at least $50,000 in compensation plus punitive damages. I do not think that this lawsuit has yet been resolved.

The latest employee incident occurred on November 21. David Walker, an employee in the District’s IT Department was arrested by Tredyffrin police on November 21 (on school district property) for “open lewdness” and “indecent exposure”. This case is set for its preliminary hearing tomorrow, January 3 at 9 AM in the Easttown court of Magisterial District Judge Thomas W. Tartaglio.  It is unclear how this arrest affects Mr. Walker’s employment in the District.

In the midst of outstanding legal issues of 2017, including the potential of a very expensive Federal lawsuit against the District, will this have any bearing on the Board’s decision to grant a 5-year contract to the Superintendent (six months in advance of its expiration)?

A New Year … and so it begins!

____________________________

UPDATE:  Republican Heather Greenberg was elected Chair of Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and Murph Wysocki (D) was elected Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  Congratulations Heather and Murph!

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No Prepayment of 2018 Property Taxes Permitted in Tredyffrin

The new tax reform bill signed into law by President Trump reduces the amount of state and local taxes a person can claim as deductions on his or her 2018 federal tax return and fewer people may itemize deductions on their 2018 return because there’s a larger standard deduction. The federal tax legislation that takes effect January 1 will cap the state and local deductions on federal tax returns at $10,000. Since the passing of the tax bill, there’s been much discussion about whether or not residents could prepay their 2018 property taxes before the end of the year.

t’s official in Tredyffrin Township and the answer is no to prepayment of property taxes. The bottom line is, unless there’s an assessment and a bill issued, you’re not able to take the deduction The notice below was posted on the Tredyffrin Township’s website yesterday:

2018 Property Taxes Pre-Payment Information

To all Township Residents:

This notice is being posted to address inquiries we have received from several resident homeowners about prepaying 2018 real estate taxes.  Please be advised that Tredyffrin Township cannot accept prepayments of 2018 real estate taxes.

The Township is prohibited by the Pennsylvania Local Tax Collection Law (specifically, 72 P.S. §5511.15) from collecting taxes that have not been assessed yet.  The Township does not issue the new tax assessment until January of 2018 and therefore cannot accept payments before that point in time.

Also, be aware that the IRS issued an advisory notice on December 27, 2017 that it will not allow any deduction in 2017 for 2018 property taxes unless those taxes were assessed and paid in 2017.  As stated above, the Township’s assessment will not be made in 2017, because the millage rates will not be set until January 2, 2018 at the Organizational Meeting of the Board of Supervisors.  The IRS’s advisory notice can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-advisory-prepaid-real-property-taxes-may-be-deductible-in-2017-if-assessed-and-paid-in-2017.

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Justice: Former TE School District Aide Receives 10-20 Years for Sexual Abuse of 15-Year Old Conestoga High School Student – Where Do We Go From Here?

It seems that in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding movie producer Harvey Weinstein, allegations of sexual harassment and assault against powerful men are flying left and right.

Actors, politicians, lawmakers, newscasters – each day brings new complaints alleging “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace”. From Hollywood to the White House, prominent men are accused of using their status to take advantage of women in unconscionable ways.

The men accused of sexual misconduct with adult women are very, very wrong. Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore is accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with children. This is not the same thing. They are not comparable. When an adult in power – whether a teacher, clergy member, coach, or in the local TE School District case an instructional aide —initiates sexual contact with a minor child, the incident is child sexual abuse, period.

Sixty-seven year old Arthur Phillips, a former instructional aide in Conestoga High School’s television production studio, sexually abused his 15 year old female victim for months. According to the police investigation, the alleged victim said that Phillips sexually assaulted her from January until April of this year on more than 10 occasions in various areas in Tredyffrin, despite saying no. Investigators alleged that Phillips made the student have sex with him. Police said that Phillips would grope, touch and kiss the student in his office at the high school. The investigation revealed that Phillips and the victim talked about “sexual issues” via text messages and at least once, he sent her a picture of his genitals.

In April, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan criminally charged Phillips with 100 counts including statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and endangering the welfare of a child, among other related charges.

In June, a Federal lawsuit was filed against the TE School District by the parents of the victim, seeking at least $75K in damages and calling for the resignation of Conestoga’s Principal Dr. Amy Meisinger. The lawsuit claims that the District was aware of the improper conduct of Phillips and “created an environment that allowed the assaults to occur”.

According to the lawsuit, a Visual and Performing Arts teacher at the high school was aware of the ‘relationship’ between Phillips and his 15-year student and that with her husband, “double-dated” for dinner to celebrate the victim’s birthday.  The lawsuit contains the names of 14 District administrators, teachers and aides who were aware of Phillips’ inappropriate relationship but took a “blind eye” and failed to take steps to investigate or halt the conduct. The Performing Arts teacher lost her job in the District last month.

We learned from Caroline O’Halloran’s Savvy Mainline that the District has responded to the lawsuit against it and Principal Meisinger on August 14 with a 28-page “motion to dismiss”.  The court has yet to rule.

Last week Phillips had his day of reckoning before Chester County Court of Common Pleas Judge Patrick Carmody.  As a former Chester County Assistant DA, Carmody has handled thousands of cases from white crime to homicide and we now know he has no tolerance for child sex offenders. We learned from the Daily Times, that Phillips pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, institutional sexual assault, and corruption of minors and in a plea agreement was given a sentence of 10-20 years in state prison.  Phillips will also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

According to the Daily Times article, Judge Carmody was particularly incensed that Phillips apologized to his wife, his daughter, his son-in-law, and to his friends but not to his victim.

The judge told Phillips, dressed in a plaid shirt and a black jacket and speaking in a nervous whisper,  that the only reason that he was accepting the proposed plea agreement and sentence offered by the prosecution and defense was that its specifics amounted to a near life term for the 67-year-old. If not for Phillips’ age, he would reject the agreement as too lenient, he said.

“You may never leave jail, you understand that?” Carmody asked. “You’re going to be sitting in jail for at least the next 10 years.”

As the accusations of sexual harassment and assault fill the national news daily, there is much talk of “fixing the problem”.  What about the outstanding federal lawsuit against the TE School District and Principal Meisinger.  Having read the lawsuit filed by the parents of the Conestoga student, it certainly appears to provide substantial evidence. I do not claim to be an attorney but it seems to me that the Phillips guilty verdict will only strengthen the case against the school district and the principal.

So the question is, where do we go from here? Although it remains to be seen how Phillips’ guilty verdict will impact the federal lawsuit,  shouldn’t the larger issue be, has the school district “fixed the problem”? Are there policies now in place to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again? Are our children safe?

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TE School District and Teachers Sign 3-Year Contract

Based on the agenda for last night’s TE School District Special Meeting, the purpose of the meeting was a Priority Discussion on the fact-finding timeline of the teachers’ contract with summary of the report. It was stated that the Board was unable to publish details contained in the report prior to the Board discussion.

However, we learned upon arrival at the meeting, that the school board and the teachers union had reached a tentative 3-year contract.  (The teachers contract expired June 30, 2017.) An overview of the contract negotiation process was presented by the District’s labor attorney Jeffrey Sultank of Fox Rothschild.  Specifics of the contract presented by District administrators Art McDonnell, Dr. Gusick and Jeanne Pocalyko.

The school board provided few updates to the public during the contract negotiation process which began in January. In past contract negotiations, the public received regular updates were provided, including the members of the committee. The lack of information (particularly after the teachers contract expired on June 30) added to an already stressful situation with the teachers mounting their own  PR campaign the last couple of months.

Below are the five slides that accompanied the fact-finding/teacher contract presentation. Although the fact-finding report and the teachers’ contract are not yet on the District website, the update should happen shortly.  Following the slides, Ray Clarke provides a few specifics from the contract.

The school board unanimously approved the new 3-year contract.

 

From Ray Clarke:

The Administration presented a lot of numbers showing the expected impact of most of the components of the agreement, but there was no integrated summary of how all added up to the stated 1.7% per year increase to the total expense budget.

–  Somehow this increase is equal to 47% of the revenue expected from increases in the Act1 Index of about 2.5% per year.  (Despite a question, I’m still not sure how these numbers reconcile – part of the problem of not having an integrated summary).

–  Salary increases aggregate to 10% over the three years, a cost offset to some extent by increases in the employee share of the premium for one of the health plans from 13% to 16% next year and by the implementation of a 6.5% share of the prescription plan premium, also next year.  The salary increases come from matrix increases of 0.5% to 1% and from step movement, plus raising the caps on tuition reimbursement and column movement.  The top step – always key with 40% of the staff there and earning ~$100,000/year – gets a $1,000 bonus this year, a ~2.5% increase next year and a 1% increase the year after.

–  The cost calculations assume the current teacher population moves along the matrix and stays at the top level, no retirements.

–  The impact of the extra PSERS and other salary-driven costs was not included

The Union and Board both seemed content with what appears on the surface to be a balanced agreement.  It will be important for the Board to remember that the District does not have to raise taxes equal to this or other cost increases.  Tonight Tredyffrin Township reported that its assessed base has increased 1.1% in 2017 YTD.

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Election 2017: Referendum on President Trump as Democrats upped their game in Tredyffrin and TE School District races

The “Trump Effect” sweeping the nation found its way to our local municipal and school board elections. Every local election can be seen as a referendum on President Trump as voters came out in mass and cast their votes overwhelmingly in support of Democratic candidates, ousting sitting Republicans in the process.

In the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors race, At-Large candidate Murph Wysocki (D) was re-elected to a second term and newcomers Matt Holt (At-Large) and Kevin O’Nell (Middle District) candidates beat their Republican opposition. Historic in Tredyffrin Township, the election marks the first time in its 300 year history, that three of the seven seats will be held by Democrats.  If memory serves me correctly, Paul Drucker was the first Democrat elected to the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors in 2005.

As a result of the 2017 election, there are big changes coming to the T/E School Board.  Running for second terms on the school board from Region III, Easttown residents Virginia Lastner (R) and Doug Carlson (R) lost to their Democrat opponents Heather Ward and Tina Whitlow.  Region I school board candidate Scott Dorsey (D) had no opposition and will serve a second term.

In the T/E School Board Region II race, current Valley Forge Middle School teacher Kyle Boyer (D) prevailed over his Republican opponent Doug Anestad.   As a teacher in the T/E School District, Boyer has been the focus of much attention since declaring his candidacy last March and is now required to resign from his reaching position before the December 4 school board meeting. It has been stated that Boyer will immediately tender his resignation to the school district and the District will waive the 60-day notification requirement so that he can take office.   As a result of the 2017 election, the T/E School Board make-up will be seven Democrats and two Republicans.

All Chester County row office elections were won by Democrat candidates, including Tredyffrin Township resident Yolanda Van de Krol as newly elected County Clerk.

Thank you to all the candidates for caring about our community and your willingness to serve! Congratulations to those who have been elected – wishing you much success!

 

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Politics & Government Start at the Local Level: Vote For the Person, Not the Political Party

Politics and government start at the local level – Election Day 2017 is tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7.

The local 2017 campaign season has taken a toll.  It has been difficult (and disheartening) to watch as friends and neighbors turned on each other; sometimes over important campaign issues and other times with unfounded personal attacks. (From my vantage point, both sides are equally at fault.) Sadly, the political unrest we see at the national level has played out in our own backyard. Regardless of who wins our local supervisor and school board races tomorrow, the difficult task to come together and move forward will remain.

Local elections do matter. Take schools: Neither the president nor Congress can have as much effect on local schools as the school board. In addition to overseeing a $140 million budget, the T/E School Board is tasked with balancing their responsibility to provide quality educational programs with the need to be effective stewards of public resources. The job requires dedication, experience and commitment to the students, parents and residents. (Click here for The Spoke interview podcast of the seven T/E School Board candidates. Thank you to Multimedia Editor Neil Goldenthal for providing the link).

Our local government has much to consider: the adequate funding of fire and safety, our library services, real estate development and redevelopment, preservation of open space and our historic structures, infrastructure improvement needs, etc. With three of the seven Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor seats on tomorrow’s ballot, this is an important election.  Which candidate’s views best aligns themselves with you? If you are undecided, a quick Google search of the supervisor candidates may provide helpful information.

In addition to the sea of individual candidate signs, the political parties have placed signs suggesting voters “Stop the Madness, Vote Democratic” and “If You Love Chester County, Vote Republican”. As a registered Independent, I never believed that it was the letter of the alphabet next to your name that would determine your success as an elected official. Whom you support on election day is a personal choice but please consider my appeal to “Vote for the Person, Not the Political Party”, before you pull the straight-party handle tomorrow.

To my fellow disenfranchised Independents who were not allowed to vote in the May primary election, our day to be heard has come. The number of registered Republicans and Democrats are about even in Tredyffrin Township, which makes the Independent votes all the more important.  Please join me — our votes do matter and can make a difference in the outcome!

Supervisors, school board, County offices and judges are all on the Election Day 2017 ballot. The message is to get out and vote tomorrow!  In the words of Napoléon Bonaparte, “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.”

If you are a registered voter and don’t know your polling precinct number, use the PA Polling Place Search here.

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Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Candidates

Township Supervisor at Large – Vote for 2

  • Robin Bond (R)
  • Matthew Holt (D)
  • Raffi Terzian (R)
  • Murph Wysocki (D) *

Township Supervisor District 2 (Middle) – Vote for 1

  • Beth Coppola (R)
  • Kevin O’Nell (D)

———————————————————————————–
TE School District School Board Candidates – Vote for 1 in each region

  • Region 1: Scott Dorsey (D)* unopposed
  • Region 2: Doug Anestad (R)
  • Region 2: Kyle Boyer (D)

TE School District School Board Candidates – Vote for 2

  • Region 3: Doug Carlson (R) *
  • Region 3: Virginia Lastner (R) *
  • Region 3: Heather Ward (D)
  • Region 3: Tina Whitlow (D)

* Incumbent

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Know Your Candidates Before You Vote! Tredyffrin Supervisor & T/E School Board Candidates Forum

With less than a week to go before Election Day, do you know who you are voting for? If you are undecided or have a specific issue to discuss, please consider attending the Chesterbrook Civic Association’s Candidate Forum and learn about the Tredyffrin Township supervisor and TE School District candidates on Saturday.  Open to the public, the event will give voters an opportunity to bring important topics to the forefront — Saturday, November 4, 10 AM – 11:30 AM at Tredyffrin Township Building in Chesterbrook.

What do each of the township supervisor candidates feel is the single most important issue facing the township? And what is their background and/or experience makes them qualified to help with the issue. 

School board candidates — how will you balance the sometimes-conflicting interests of the students, taxpayers and teachers. And what in your background and/or experience will help you meet the needs of these three groups.

Use this opportunity to learn in depth about the understanding of issues, the personal perspectives, and the goals of candidates standing for election in our pending local elections.  The importance of knowing your candidates and what they stand for is especially significant in these times, when recent history teaches that what politicians say they plan to do is not necessarily what they actually do after being elected.

It’s important to know the issues, and to vote. Not voting can influence an election as much as voting does. If the person you did not want to win an election prevails, it may be that people who were eligible to vote did not vote.

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“He Said, She Said” – Now What? T/E School Board Race Plagued with Legal Questions

“He Said, She Said – What’s Next” says it all!  There continues to be accusations of misinformation and confusion surrounding the T/E School District’s 60-day resignation policy and how this regulation affects the Region II School Director race between candidates Doug Anestad (R) and Kyle Boyer (D).

Local municipal races are important and facts do matter! On October 12, chair of the Tredyffrin Republican Committee Neill Kling provided an opinion on the PA State Law in regards to the 60-day resignation policy.  On October 17, the post was updated to include subsequent responses from candidate Doug Anestad (R) and Kathleen Keohane, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee. In addition to their responses, I sent a personal email to candidate Kyle Boyer (D) inviting him to clarify his position and to ‘set the record straight’ on any inaccuracies. To date, Mr. Boyer has offered no further information nor responded to my email.

After reviewing TTDEMS chair Kathleen Keohane’ response dated October 17, Mr. Anestad believes it contains erroneous information and has sent a follow-up response. Rather than update the original post with this new information, below you will find Kathleen’s response followed by Doug’s.

Again, I need to ask where is Kyle Boyer? He’s the T/E School District school teacher running for the District’s school board. I understand that Mr. Boyer may not want to respond “on a blog” but isn’t the public entitled to some answers before Election Day?

Based on Mr. Anestad’s review (below) of the PA State Law, T/E School District policy and professional employment contract, it appears that there could be repercussions for Mr. Boyer if he were win the Region II School Director race. So … for any voters which be further confused by the “He Said, She Said” narrative, I suggest contacting Dr. Rich Guisick, the T/E School District Superintendent at gusickr@tesd.net.

Kathleen Keohane, Chair of Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee Oct. 17 response to Neill Kling, Chair of Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee regarding the T/E School District Region II School Director race:

Pattye,

Once again it is political season and some members of our community have sought to infuse false narratives into a local school board race that should be non-partisan and focused on the issues. Posted as a blog statement, last Thursday’s letter from Neill Kling, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee, calls into question Democratic school board candidate Kyle Boyer’s fitness to serve. Neill chose not to post this letter on his party’s website or in a letter to the editor but on a local blog, which allows for anonymous comments.

All voters should continue to focus on the facts:

Kyle Boyer is fully entitled to run for T/E school board as a resident of the district. He is aware of and appreciates the requirement that he resign his teaching position and leave the district if and when he is elected on November 7, and is fully prepared to do so. As for the 60-day provision in the PA Code, it gives districts the latitude to hold teachers for sixty days. However, there is solid precedent that the T/E school district has released professional staff with much less notice.

Further, T/E School District Regulation 4031, which governs all district employees, states:

The District will accept, without prejudice, the resignation of any employee provided written notice is given at least two (2) weeks in advance of the planned resignation date.

In late winter, Kyle Boyer informed his supervisor of his intention to run for T/E School Board. He did so out of respect for his colleagues and the school district, knowing that it would become public information after nominating petitions had been certified. That initial conversation and the public knowledge of his candidacy constitute over 8 months’ notice of a possible vacancy in his position at Valley Forge Middle School. It is safe to assume that school administrators have planned for that possibility.

Kyle has chosen to continue working as a teacher in the district until voters select him to represent them on the school board. He is a native of T/E, graduated from our schools, and most importantly, is committed to serving our community. Parents have found him to be an excellent teacher and role model for their children. They see him participating in the community (he is a member of FLITE’s advisory board and a member of the Tredyffrin Parks Board). They know him as a person of integrity who has shown he cares about all T/E residents.

Regarding the suggestion of a conflict of interest, Kyle would be serving as a former teacher – with all the experience that entails.  As others have pointed out, his opponent also is a former teacher, along with current school board vice- president, Scott Dorsey. Former school board members who worked as teachers and administrators include Rich Brake, Karen Cruickshank, Sandi Gorman, Kris Graham and Pat Wood, who resigned as TESD Coordinator of Community and Volunteer Services after her election to T/E’s school board.  All have brought an appreciation for the educational process and the systems in which they operated.

Lastly, in response to anonymous comments about Kyle Boyer’s relative youth, remember that Debbie Bookstaber was elected to the T/E school board in 2009. She was 27 years old, a short-time resident of T/E, and had never attended public schools. The TTRC willingly supported her candidacy.

At 29, Kyle is an example of TESD’s great success at preparing its students well to succeed, and to serve their community. With a B.A. from the George Washington University, an M.S.Ed. and M.P.A. from University of Pennsylvania and his principal’s certification from Immaculata University, Kyle has successfully spent his career teaching.  An ordained minister, he currently is pursuing a third Master’s in Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary and serves in the local faith community as well.

As one Valley Forge Middle parent commented online, “We should be debating the fitness of the candidates for their prospective positions, not procedural minutiae that are irrelevant to most.”  I agree.

Sandi Gorman, former T/E school board member and head of T&E Care has endorsed Kyle Boyer. She writes, “I’ve honestly never known anyone more qualified and dedicated to the causes he follows.  How lucky for the TESD that he believes that the good of our kids is a cause he’d like to champion!”

Sandi has served the best interests of the children and families of this community for thirty years and has earned our respect and appreciation. She clearly knows the facts and the law. A long-time Republican, she is supporting Kyle. All Region 2 voters should consider doing the same.

Best regards,
Kathleen Keohane
Chair, Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee

T/E School District Region II School Director candidate Doug Anestad (R) follow-up to Kathleen Keohane, Chair, Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee:

Dear Pattye,

Both Kathleen Keohane and Kyle Boyer are wrong on state law and wrong on T/E school district policy on the fundamental concept of the 60 day rule that anyone with a background in education should understand.

Kathleen Keohane stated that “some members of our community have sought to infuse false narratives into a local school board race that should be non-partisan and focused on the issues”. The irony here is that it is she is the one that is infusing false narratives into the local school board race – and she has struck out on each.

Strike one: a false narrative that states the 60 day rule does not apply to Mr. Boyer because of T/E Regulation 4031. The problem is, T/E Regulation 4031 does not apply to teachers. It is for all non-contractual employees.

The actual T/E Policy that relates to teachers is Policy 4470, Permanent Separation from District Employment (Instructional Employees), under the Instructional Staff section. Policy 4470 clearly states:

Resignations

Certificated Professional employees desiring to resign must present a written resignation within the time period as required by law. If no time period is required by law, then the employee must present a written resignation at least sixty (60) days prior to the effective date of resignation.

Strike two is another false narrative claiming Mr. Boyer’s “initial conversation and the public knowledge of his candidacy constitute over 8 months’ notice” and “It is safe to assume that school administrators have planned for that possibility.”  There is nothing that a school district will do to prepare for a teacher’s exit until they give their actual resignation. School districts have a process in place that starts once a letter of resignation is received, not before – and definitely not based on the possible outcome of a political campaign months away.

Strike three is another false narrative that “there is solid precedent that the T/E school district has released professional staff with much less notice.”  What is missing is that those teachers gave 60 days notice and then were allowed to be released early after the school district went through the hiring process, hired the replacement, and knew when the new teacher could start.

As if those three strikes weren’t enough, there is this: Kyle Boyer signed an individual contract with the school district. That contract clearly stated that he had to give 60 days notice when resigning.

Now let’s summarize as clearly as possible: Kyle Boyer has admitted he will not give 60 days notice to the T/E school district. This means that he has promised to break PA state law, break his personal contract with the T/E school district, and break T/E school district policy.

While I cannot fault Kathleen Keohane for not fully comprehending the 60-day rule, there is really no excuse for someone running on his educational background and educational knowledge not to understand it – especially after it was explicitly pointed out to him long before he was close to the 60 day deadline.

Sincerely,

Doug Anestad

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