Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What smells funny?


It's good to be Timm Mackley. The erstwhile leader of Peters Township School District is sitting at home in Ohio, waiting to cash school district checks that will add up to about $170,000. All for NOT working. The district on Tuesday made public a "separation agreement" with Mackley, laying out the terms for the payoff. He needs to get his stuff out of his office by April 25, but his duties already have been divvied up. The question is why Mackley is leaving, more than two years before his contract with the district was supposed to expire. Mackley has no comment, and neither do members of the school board. The settlement agreement, which bars Mackley, board members and the district from expounding on the superintendent's departure, says Mackley is shuffling off because of his "strong desire to rejoin his family in Ohio, and to enable him to spend time with his son during his senior year or high school." Gee, don't you think an educated fella like Mackley would have realized when he signed his four-year deal with Peters Township that his son would be a high school senior in Ohio before that contract was up? Call me a skeptic, but I think there might be more to this story. The shame is, the people of Peters Township aren't getting the details. If Mackley committed offenses that warranted dismissal, or even if the board members just lost confidence in his being the right person to lead the district, that should have been discussed publicly, with appropriate action taken. And, yes, the district, one way or the other, was going to have to pay Mackley on his way out the door, or face an expensive lawsuit. But at least the public would know the reasons the board was willing to shell out $170,000. If Mackley simply wanted to go home to Ohio, he could have resigned, not entered into a "separation agreement." And if the only reason for his leaving is the one stated in the agreement, why in the world is there a need to gag the board members? Am I the only one who smells something fishy here? I know Peters Township is a wealthy area, but $170,000 is not exactly chump change - especially when you just got done paying nearly $500,000 to settle lawsuits filed by high school principal Tom Hajzus. And, by the way, the district reportedly is working to settle yet another lawsuit, this one by former high school football coach Keith Hartbauer against Hajzus and the district. The money flows. Do the taxpayers care?

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds to me as if whatever happened to cause the district to get rid of Mackley, it would have cost the district more if the public had found out what the problem was. OK, I'm cynical. But if you have nothing to hide, why put up a wall? Fessing up to mistakes, no matter how stupid, is sorely lacking among public officials.

March 12, 2008 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

I'll join you in the skeptic camp, and I suspect that the crowd will be large. The District has been in turmoil for several years. After the settlement with Hajzus, things could not have been run smoothly. I'm sure that many Peters' residents would have been fighting in line to help load the moving truck for him.

The flow of residents that come to the microphone at the Board meetings should have been a warning to Mackley. Any candidates that may be considering the job must have a few tapes of meetings given to them, so that they can understand the rhetoric that is spoken at the meetings. If those candidates have the tapes and review them, the list of viable people for the Superintendent position will be whittled down quickly.

It seems the contentious atmosphere of the Board has provided a less-than-effective environment to get things done. There are too many big egos from both the Board and residents to ever make things works smoothly. Adding to that mix is the emphasis of sports. In some ways, the Board might be considered as a Rec Board, with a bit of education added on the side. Not to digress, but sports needs to be removed from the educational programs -- it no longer compliments the educational system, rather supplants (another topic for another day).

The house needs a cleaning. That includes some on the Board, the High School Superintendent, and some residents. But, the Board reflect the citizens who elected them, so that will not change easily. The fear of further litigation prohibits Hajzus from being removed. And, some residents have too much time on their hands to form an agenda of their own. They are unwilling to put their children in some other educational settings (e.g. cyberschool, vocational school, homeschool, private school). Rather, they get their jollies from coffee klatches that manifest themselves in rants at the microphone at the Board meetings.

Speaking of rants ... while I'm here .... The migration of Allegheny County residents, especially from USC and Mt Lebanon, has prompted a desire to make Peters Township look just like their former municipality (e.g. Rec Center, leaf burning, ordinances, etc). The interest extends to the school system. USC and Mt Lebanon are noted for their school system (although USC residents made themselves look like fools over the IB program). The pride and competitive spirit often drives people to do irrational things. Attempting to make "square pegs fit into round holes" has created some of the Peters' School system problems.

I am not sure why anybody would want to be Superintendent in the Peters Township School District.

March 13, 2008 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Good points, Roger. I don't have enough firsthand information to criticize the board members or the parents in the district, but I can say that as a detached observer, this appears to be a school district that is constantly in crisis mode. Also, I'm a huge sports fan, but I'm saddened to see the overemphasis on sports, and the resulting glorification of athletes, trickle down from the pros, to college, to high schools and, now, even to youth athletics. I've believed for many years that our children are being overscheduled, and we have some very young kids who not only play on school teams but are on traveling athletic teams in their particular sport. For some of them, this may lead to a college scholarship or a pro career, but I'm afraid that many will look back at the singular focus on a particular sport as having deprived them of other things they might have enjoyed (not to mention, and I can't believe I'm saying this out loud, some FREE TIME). As for the changing face of Peters, I would agree that the people there are not the same kind of people who were there 40 years ago. When I was a youth, I recall that area as being largely farmland. When driving from Washington to Pittsburgh on Route 19, there wasn't much of anything between the Kmart on Murtland and Donaldsons Crossroads. But I guess there's no stopping "progress." Cheers to you, Roger.

March 13, 2008 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not exactly on topic, but anyone remember when a Canonsburg council member wanted to censure councilman B.C. Coleman because he had thrown miniature American flags attached to toothpicks into the crowd during the 'Burg's July 4parade? Why? "You could put someone's eye out!" Our elected officials at work.

March 13, 2008 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

This is indeed a strange situation. I find myself scratching my head over why the superintendent of a school district calls another state his home. His children attend school in Ohio, so that tells me that he feels the school board which he oversees is good enough to handle other children's educations but not his own. Some leader!

And Roger, your comments were excellent. I have complained for years about how much importance is placed on sports in our society. I remember when sports were fun, when some students with a bit of talent could entertain the notion of a sports scholarship so they could get an education, not just use college as a waiting room for the pros. I don't want to get too much off topic here, but when someone can tell me why a college professor earns, say, $125,000 per year and a college football coach earns millions of dollars per year, I'll stop complaining.

Anyway, I love the way the board was smart enough to put a gag order on all parties involved. It seems like the one smart thing they did in this regard.

March 14, 2008 at 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://gz0.blogspot.com/2008/03/book-by-its-cover.html

March 26, 2008 at 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roger said it all.

We need to take an HONEST look in the mirror. When it is all said and done, we should be proud of what we see instead of being a snobby, overly wealthy, arrogant, too proud to do the right thing community that is the laughing stock for our neighbors.

April 2, 2008 at 9:18 AM  

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