School board calls meeting to address Manzone allegations

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Statement rejects claims of ‘deal’ made on residency issue

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

UCFLogoWebEAST 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.

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11 Comments

  1. Kristin Hoover says:

    It seems pretty clear that a deal was actually made. The question is why. What did Sanville or the District get in exchange for the tuition wavier? Where was the solicitor in this process?

  2. Watching from PA says:

    Please report on what was said ASAP

  3. really mad says:

    Kristin

    Because this is what boards do. They never admit guilt, and never take responsibility. They obstruct, stonewall, talk about a bunch of nothing (ramble) to distract citizens from the real issues. If they had a legitimate, legal reason, (excuse) or explanation we would have it by now.

    The reasons they cite for their actions in their rebuttal to her letter are the very allegations Dr, Manzone talks about in her letter of resignation. Decisions made in private. Confidentiality used too often. etc. Executive sessions misused. Oh, but their protecting the child. Right.

    People get on these boards to further their careers, make business contacts and boost their egos. The administrators help the board members get what they want and then the board members support the administrators 100%. Citizens, tax payers and children are rarely considered. The administrators make it easy for them to rubber stamp everything that is put before them so they do it. They never ask any questions and accept all administrator filtered info even when citizens write them letters, call them or come to meetings to give a different point of view. The board meetings are orchestrated and always in favor of what the administrators want. Citizen comments are ignored as if they were never spoken. Citizens are treated like unwanted intrusions.

    Parents feel lost, alone, unheard, disrespected and confused. If all attempts by administration to control you have failed, you are then blamed, labeled and marginalized. They like nothing more than for you to take your child out of the system and out of their jurisdiction so they don’t have to deal with you. Oh, and if you somehow push through and understand how to gt the district to pay for the special school you have to send your child to, because they won’t do their job, you’re blamed for escalating budget problems too, while teacher and administrator salaries eat up most of the budget. But they never talk about that.

    • Sally Jones says:

      I do not know the facts of this case but I admire Holly Manzone for speaking out for what she believes to be true, even though, I’m sure she knew, she would suffer the backlash. Mrs Manzone and I aren’t close friends but I have know her as another parent for 11 years; she has always struck me as a very good person who has worked hard in the best interest of the children. I respect her for speaking out. It is disappointing and rather sickening to read that there is this issue in Unionville.

  4. Kristin Hoover says:

    I read with press release from the District with great interest. Dr. Manzone’s resignation letter points to multiple issues that seem to have been forgotten. These are the more troubling issues because the lack of transparency, the control of information combined with rubber-stamping and lack of oversight are the issues that lead the Board and Superintendent into the idea that anything they do is OK. That leads to absolute power. As Lord Acton once pointed out, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    The Board response centers on residency including a rambling, complicated description of why residency is so hard to determine. When you look at the statute, here is what it actually says, “(1) A school age child is entitled to attend the public schools of the child’s district of residence. A child’s district of residence is that in which the parents or the guardian resides. When the parents reside in different school districts due to separation, divorce or other reason, the child may attend school in the district of residence of the parent with whom the child lives for a majority of the time, unless a court order or court approved custody agreement specifies otherwise. If the parents have joint custody and time is evenly divided, the parents may choose which of the two school districts the child will enroll for the school year. If the child is an emancipated minor, the resident school district is the one in which the child is then living. For purposes of this section, an emancipated minor is a person under 21 years of age who has chosen to establish a domicile apart from the continued control and support of parents or guardians. A minor living with a spouse is deemed emancipated.” This seems pretty clear to me. Why would the Board be having so much trouble with it?

  5. really mad says:

    Administrators and board members never ever ever admit they are wrong. They support each other 100% and the tax payer and the children are always an after thought. It’s the same in Great Valley, West Chester, Radnor, TE and Lower Merion where 75% of the budgets goes to the bloated salaries of the administrators and teachers while childrens’ programs are cut and the tax payer has little to no say in where monies are spent.

    I feel sorry for Dr. Manzone. Since she has dealt with these people for almost 4 years, she knows how they operate and she knows how they treat people who dare to question them and who dare stand up to their exclusionary tactics.

    As she said, the energy is spent on complaining and talking about the parents (and now her), not the issue at hand. She has to make sure the issue stays focused on her allegations and that the matter does not get obstructed and turned around and become focused on her.

  6. UpsetInUCFSD says:

    Will the FACTS be presented, or just what the board wants to tell the taxpayers??

    I can only hope that Ms Manzone is present to tell her side of the story!

  7. Dan says:

    Snce Mr. Joshi suggested that we need to “vigorously debate” the manner in which the School Board discusses issues I thought I’d add my two cents. I know neither Mr. Joshi nor Ms. Manzone except through these articles in Unionville Times. It appears that Ms. Manzone is being “beat up” for doing something that she believed was right to do. In my mind it would certainly have been far easier for her to continue on for a few more weeks and leave w/o “rocking the boat”. To label her as childish and even worse by others doesn’t change her accusations. She is either correct or her interpretations of events, discussions, etc. behind closed doors is incorrect. The people of the school district want to know that our representatives are acting properly for the benefit of our community and most importantly for our children.
    As for the meeting Monday night, I’d suggest all residents try and attend. I think it will be obvious from the Board’s actions what was really happening. So far they seem to be going overboard to defend their actions rather than taking steps to give the residents a comfort level that they are acting properly……

  8. Dell Joshi says:

    I read the recent developments related to the UCFSD School Board with a lot of disappointment and dismay. While we must vigorously debate the issues and always strive for continues improvement, there is no place for the immature behavior that Ms. Manzone has demonstrated. The hardworking educators and the children of this school district deserve better. As I have articulated in my letter to the Unionville Times earlier this month (http://www.unionvilletimes.com/?p=18521), there is room for improvement in our school district and the Board can and must do better.

    However, Ms. Manzone’s accusations are over the top. Even if we take her accusations at face value, it is hard to comprehend that the Board became unethical overnight. She found her colleagues’ behavior and actions acceptable for 47 months of her four year tenure. Why did she wait so long to speak up? Earlier this year, as a candidate for the Region C Board vacancy, I have interacted with all the Board members and it was evident to me that the Board is made up of people with a wide spectrum of political and philosophical ideologies and there is a clear divide there. Therefore, it is highly unlikely for so many of them to conspire in the manner Ms. Manzone has described.

    Let’s look at Ms. Manzone’s recent actions. Even if she was going to resign, she could have done so in a professional manner while making a statement. I was tempted to call her behavior childish. I refrained because such a comment would be grossly unfair to all the children out there. As a Board member, it was her duty to lead by example. What she did is not an example I want my children or their educators to follow!

    Next month, there is contested Board election in Region C. I ask the two candidates to clearly articulate their views on this topic. They must clearly say how they would handle the situation. I hope we hear from them soon. We, the voters, need to make an informed choice.

    • Tammy Everitt says:

      Where is it written that Dr. Manzone found her colleauges’ behavior acceptable for 47 months prior to her resignation? Where is it written that she waited so long to speak up? You need more information before you can make statements such as you did. I applaud you for calling on your candidates to articulate their views on this topic. I truly hope you would get a candid answer and not a scripted response.

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