July 25, 2019 07:03 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- It’s a story ABC 6 News began following in September of 2018, when an investigation into two staff members left the communities of the LeRoy Ostrander School District looking for answers.
The fallout from the investigation ultimately led to the district’s then-superintendent, Jeff Sampson, being relieved of his duties.
Last week, the district’s interim superintendent, Jerry Reshetar, abruptly resigned leaving the community, yet again, wondering what’s next.
“He’s been great with the community, been great with the students, the staff,” said Tim Lewison, Vice Chair of the LeRoy Ostrander School Board.
“A lot more transparency, and tried to bring things together and move forward,” said Steve Kasel, Chair of the LeRoy Ostrander School Board.
Reshetar has previously been superintendent at Lyle and Glenville-Emmons School Districts, and was hired as interim superintendent at LeRoy Ostrander in January.
“We brought Jerry in, and everybody was real excited, you know? Thought Jerry was going to come in and you know maybe straighten things up, turn things around,” said Paul Hamlin, longtime LeRoy resident.
“The last we knew, we talked, we approved Jerry to stay on for this next year,” Kasel said.
At the board’s meeting in June, Reshetar said as much.
“I’ve been asked to stick around. Here’s the proposal on my contract. I’d prefer to be on a contract next year as opposed to a daily rate of pay,” Reshetar told the board during their meeting in June.
“He was great, he was great,” Lewison said.
“And so what happened last week I – you know, I’m still kind of confused myself,” Kasel said.
Last Friday, following a run-of-the-mill school board meeting, after he signed a contract to be superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year, Reshetar sent the board a letter of resignation.
“He was such a positive force, I just didn’t see it coming,” Lewison said.
In part, the letter to the school board said:
My trust in the LeRoy Ostrander School Board to function as a team in support of their students was substantially fractured at the July School Board meeting. Quite simply, unethical behaviors and actions by selected board members are below my standards for effective operation of a public school… in the strongest words I can convey, shame on all of you. Your students do not deserve this. I gave you a chance. You should have taken it.
“I can understand he’s not happy with the outcome of the vote,” Kasel said.
He and Lewison think a vote on renewing the contract for the district’s athletic and community education director prompted Reshetar’s resignation.
“Just to leave is kind of a surprise, you know, there’s a lot of support in the community for him. Why is he leaving us,” Kasel said.
Reshetar wouldn’t tell ABC 6 News what the “unethical behaviors and actions” were, but said the school board members “know what they did.”
Hamlin, who was on the board for 14 years, said there’s talk going around that some board members met to discuss that vote before they got into the board room.
“There’s been a lot of people in the community that have said they’ve seen them – four or more board members out of the meeting setting, having illegal open meeting – and violating the open meeting laws,” Hamlin said.
“My response to the accusations is they’re not true. We know, well I know better than that,” Lewison said.
For a community that’s been working so hard to move forward in the past seven months, Kasel admits the resignation is a bit of a setback.
“It’s kind of a blow, but we’re still moving forward and we’ll go to work trying to find another superintendent to come in, and I’m quite confident we’ll have another one soon,” Kasel said.
Still, they say progress was made with Reshetar.
“We are so much further ahead now than where we were,” Lewison said.
But for now, it’s back to the drawing board.
“When I first came here, one of my objectives was to get you through this school year. We got there. My second objective was to find you a superintendent long-term. So that is still on my radar. I would tell you, superintendents are hard to come by,” Reshetar told the board at their meeting in June.
School board members said the latest development will not impact the district’s ability to open in the fall.
The board is meeting Thursday night at 6:30 to discuss the district’s future and their search for a new superintendent.
Updated: July 25, 2019 07:03 PM
Created: July 25, 2019 05:46 PM
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