Statement rejects claims of ‘deal’ made on residency issue
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
EAST MARLBOROUGH — The Unionville-Chadds Ford Board of Education has called a special meeting for Monday, Oct. 28 to address the allegations made by board member Holly Manzone about a deal involving the residency of a student.
It is also expected that the board will accept Manzone’s resignation from the board at the 7 p.m. meeting, which will be held in the main conference room at the administration office.
The district issued a statement Friday afternoon announcing the special meeting — saying that a response was needed to the claims Manzone made during her resignation speech, as well in a letter she submitted, which was published in The Times, Tuesday.
“It is most unfortunate that Holly Manzone chose to resign, especially so close to the end of her term,” the statement said. “The administration and Board want to thank her for her service and wish her well.”
“Holly Manzone’s departure letter made serious allegations that must be addressed,” the statement said. “Board meetings are always posted and open to the public. We welcome comments and comply with laws and policies regarding open records. Members are careful not to assemble in groups of more than four unless it’s open, announced and “official business.” Executive session meetings are held only when they comply with state law.
“The responsibility of School Board members to carry out their work in a forthright and ethical manner is important to each member and the entire Board as a whole. School Board members are bound by an Oath of Office in which they swear to uphold the duties of their office with fidelity. Board members are guided by personal integrity as well as legal ethical standards.”
The statement goes on to address the specific issue that Manzone alleged was the subject of a “deal,” allowing an alleged non-resident to have students attend UCFSD schools.
“Much has been made over the issue of parents sending children to our schools while living outside of the district,” the statement said. “The superintendent and board members all agree that this should not be tolerated. Every case brought to the district’s attention is investigated. In fact, numerous cases have been investigated over the past three years. Some have resulted in the removal of students, others have been unfounded and still others are ongoing.
“The reason the district cannot divulge detailed information about every investigation is because of the laws of confidentiality, not because the district is hiding anything,” the statement continues. “Confidentiality laws protect these individuals and are closely adhered to by the Board and administration. UCFSD is always scrupulous in ensuring that children are never made subjects for possible harassment or even danger, and therefore never provides family names or addresses publicly.”
The statement strongly rejects the accusation that any deals were made relative to the residency issue.
“What can be confirmed is that no ‘deals’ have been made,” the statement said. “The district follows state law and board policy on residency matters. Dr. Sanville has regularly updated the board and has assured us that no deals have been made, and we have complete confidence in his integrity and trustworthiness in this and all other matters. Some situations are very complex and difficult to prove because it takes more than casual observation and an address to determine residency. For example, under certain circumstances Pennsylvania law allows a family with children enrolled in UCFSD schools to have homes both within and outside the district. In these complex situations the district seeks guidance from legal counsel to stay on the right side of the law.
“In the meantime we want to assure every member of the community and the media, that the School Board and UCFSD administration are conducting business openly, honestly, and with the care that our students and schools deserve,” the statement concludes.
In addition to accepting Manzone’s resignation and refuting the allegations, the board plans to allow public comment on the matter during the meeting.