East Penn President Criticizes Donches for ‘Surprise’ Motion

A last-minute motion by East Penn School Director Lynn Donches to eliminate an assistant principal at Emmaus High School meets with criticism by School Board President Charles Ballard at Monday night’s school board meeting.

may be in the market for a new assistant principal following last night’s meeting of the .

In the early part of the Aug. 27 meeting, in a seemingly straightforward vote, the board unanimously accepted a list of five resignations, including that of Janine Mathesz, assistant principal at Emmaus High School, effective Aug. 20.

It wasn’t until the tail end of the meeting -- when Board President Charles Ballard asked if anyone had any “New Business” to bring before the board -- that things got interesting.

That’s when School Director Lynn Donches made a motion not to fill the open assistant principal position at the high school. “[We should] consolidate the duties among the remaining four principals,” Donches said.

“A number of people have asked me, ‘why do we have so many assistant principals?’ There are a lot of administrators. We are top-heavy on the administration side. Like in any business, when someone vacates a position, we need to evaluate and see if we can consolidate things.

“We need to start cutting spending, and I think that this is a good place to start,” she said.

Ballard told Donches that she had a responsibility to let the board know that she was considering such a motion prior to the last five minutes of the meeting in order to give people time to do their own research into the idea and prepare their thoughts on the topic.

“I don’ t know where to begin on this one,” Ballard said. “This is classic micro-management by the board. We hire a superintendent to manage the district. If you disagree with his policies you should make that known to him and to the board.

“You owe a duty to the other members of this board to float this out as soon as you received your packet. It is damn unfair to try to spring surprise after surprise after surprise.

That is entrapment of the worst sort. It is political entrapment, making such a statement without having the intestinal fortitude to make your feelings known beforehand,” Ballard said. “Why someone would think they can do a better job than the superintendent, I don’t know.”

Donches’ motion failed by a 5 to 2 vote, with Donches and School Director Julian Stolz voting in favor of the measure. School Director Michael Policano abstaine from the decision, stating that he didn’t feel he had enough information to participate in the vote.

After the meeting, Donches said that there wasn’t a lot of time to talk to the other board members about the motion she proposed between when the board received its packet on Thursday and the Monday night meeting. “I really didn’t think about it sooner,” she said, adding that she was not surprised by the board’s ultimate decision.

School director Rebecca Heid was absent from Monday night’s meeting.

ted.dobracki August 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Re C.B.'s #2: Chuck, you miss the point that this is not an "individual personnel decision". There was no nominee to fill the position - rather it was only being vacated Monday night. It is proper board policy to examine if the postion should exist in the future. What better time to do that while the position is vacant, instead of during the normal budget process when you have the complication of a likely layoff? More disturbing to me is that the board is allowing the resigning VP to leave just before the school year starts, leaving the position vacant (especially if it is so critical). The resignation letter attached to the agenda requested a waiver of a 60 day hold in the Administartors agreements so that (s)he could get going and start at the new place. Sure helps them, but not EPSD! By waiving the 60 -day notice in this case, are you setting a precedent?
Ron Beitler August 29, 2012 at 04:42 PM
How much does the charter get per pupil in taxpayer money vs. school district? Curious
Giovanni Landi August 29, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Informed - my intention wasn't to argue with you. I agree that No Child Left Behind is terrible, that's what we get from big government. I do think educators have a lot to do with the performance of the student, and as I have said many times in the past, the teachers we have in EPSD are fantastic. My children have had excellent teachers in all their grades so far. My disagreement is I don't believe they are good teachers because of the pay, and I don't believe most teachers do what they do for the money. I think most teachers do what they do because they love children, they love to teach and they're good at it. I also disagree that it has anything to do with taxes. If you check the millage chart at Lehigh County you will see that Allentown residents pay more in school taxes than East Penn. Like I said previously, higher taxes and more money do not necessarily correlate with higher performance.
taxed-enough August 30, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Lynn Donches was elected by the public and she should be respected as our elected representative. A great person once said "question with boldness." Thank you to Lynn for questioning all issues closely, and please keep up the good work. We are fortunate to have you serving on our school board.
Garrett Rhoads September 07, 2012 at 02:45 AM
No script Chuck. Those were my own words. I wrote them on my own without any help. Unlike you, I have the capacity to generate my own ideas and verbalize them without needing to consult with any handlers or a need to conform to some predetermined political platform. In fact, I have even offended the "cabal" you accuse me of being a part of. I am the voice of the forgotten EPSD taxpayer that has finally woken up. My independent comments stand alone as mine. If you would like to take issue with them, then please take me up on my previous offer to meet with me individually to discuss. Since our last conversation of 4 months ago when I gave you my personal business card, you have not ONCE called or emailed me with regards to my public comments. Instead, you choose to attempt to marginalize my public comments in a cowardly fashion using a blog post. You have my private cell number and my email address. Use them.


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