Chadds Ford principal out after PSSA questions

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Reputedly allowed extra time for some students on March tests

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Mark-Ransford

Mark Ransford

PENNSBURY —  Chadds Ford Elementary School principal Mark Ransford was placed on administrative leave and will retire, following an investigation into issues regarding the recent PSSA tests administered at the school last month — reportedly he allowed some students to get extra time to complete the tests.

Unionville-Chadds Ford Superintendent of Schools John Sanville announced the move during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting — which also saw the resignation of board member Eileen Bushelow, effective at the end of May. The board voted 9-0 to approve Ransford’s retirement.

The revelation comes just a week after Unionville-Chadds Ford School District was named the top school district in Pennsylvania by The Pittsburgh Business Times — a ranked based on the district’s PSSA and Keystone test scores.

Ransford will remain on leave until his retirement takes place on July 1. In the interim, district Director of Curriculum John Nolen (a former elementary school principal) and Hillendale Elementary School Principal Steve Dissinger will oversee school operations for the remainder of the school year.

Sanville read a prepared statement on what happened leading to Ransford’s departure during the meeting.

“During the week of March 31 PSSA testing was taking place,” Sanville said. “While administering state testing there are certain protocols that must be strictly followed – to ensure uniformity across the commonwealth.  Strict adherence to the rules is an important part of a school’s academic integrity.

“Mr. Ransford, Chadds Ford Elementary School principal, provided 12 students with the opportunity to finish certain sections of the PSSA after testing had concluded. This violation of PSSA testing protocols was reported to the District Office by Chadds Ford Elementary School staff. At that time we contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Education and launched an investigation.

“Our inquiry concluded that irregular testing procedures had occurred. All information from our investigation has been sent to Harrisburg.”

Ransford was placed on administrative leave and chose to retire, Sanville said.

“Mr. Ransford has decided to retire. Mr. Ransford’s decision is personal,” Sanville said. “The Board has accepted and approved his retirement request.”

Sanville said that the district could make no further public comment on the matter.

Ransford, who became principal at the school at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year, was a well-liked building administrator. Under his watch, Chadds Ford Elementary became the first school in the district to be honored as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009.

Meanwhile, Bushelow’s resignation will open a spot in the Region B area (Newlin, Pocopson and Birmingham). She stressed her decision was strictly related to personal and family issues and in no way related to issues with the board or the district.

Bushelow was first appointed to the board to replace Curt Baker in 2010. She won reelection from Region B and served as board president for two years. Her resignation takes effect on May 28.

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19 Comments on "Chadds Ford principal out after PSSA questions"


Guest
Len
1 year 2 months ago

There are no winners here. I am not a resident of Unionville, but I know many of the teachers and administrators in the District and I applaud them for the results they have achieved. I also know many of the kids and they are exceptional students, but even more important, exceptional human beings. The Principal made a mistake, owned up to it and retired. I am not sure why anyone would not think that being publicly embarrassed, leaving your job that you truly love and having your integrity questioned, is not punishment enough. I think we all need a reality check and try to remember to do the right thing, but when someone doesn’t, please do not be so quick to throw away years of good for one mistake. Also, I hope that the people who turned in this man, did it for the right reasons and not out of vengeance or spite.

Guest
rocky
1 year 3 months ago

I have two kids in the district and hear from them that students who do not have IEP accommodations are often allowed extra time on these tests. I also have friends who are teachers in the district and they all despise having to teach for a test, vice, teaching a broader curriculum to achieve the same or better results. I would vote to eliminate the elected school board, whose members sue the taxpayers, and consistently award too many consulting contracts to their cronies, as well as, boost the superintendents’ contract at every given opportunity. Moving to a non-elected board will avoid all the politics and cronyism. Many school districts across our great nation do not use elected school boards. To close, I feel for the young students who suddenly lost their school principle, that they looked up to and respected. I’m sure many of them are truly saddened.

Guest
Observing
1 year 3 months ago

This is laughably incorrect. However I know that no amount of discussion will change your hatred to John Sanville so I will not bother.

Guest
Open Eyes
1 year 3 months ago

Correct. Ms. Hoover’s intense hatred of Dr. Sanville is evident because she always mentions him. She does not realize that the taxpayers & parents of current students are very happy with the administration. Wonder what she is so mad about….he’ll hath no fury…..?

Guest
CFE Parent
1 year 3 months ago

Truly those affected the most by Mark Ransford’s departure are the children at Chadds Ford Elementary, the staff and the parents. He is a large part of what always made CFE so special. If CFE is a family then Mark was its head. We have lost a great individual who did countless good things for the school. Because we have always seen him in action caring for the school and its students, until we hear from Mark himself there are those at Chadds Ford who will not judge him or reach conclusions. As everyone at the school attempts to put on a happy face for the sake of the children, the immediacy of Mark’s departure has left a void and it would have been nice if the District afforded Mark an opportunity to speak to the children and parents in some fashion like he has for numerous years . The bottom line is that CFE is a better school today because of Mark Ransford and he will be missed not only by parents and staff but by “his” kids.

Guest
Kristin Hoover
1 year 3 months ago

Mr. Ransford is the scapegoat in this situation. I’ve heard that there is a personal reason they wanted to get rid of him and that he did nothing that was not done by others. I wish him the best and feel sorry that he was forced out.

Guest
Observing
1 year 3 months ago

Nonsense. First, Mr. Ransford was very well liked. Secondly, what he did with testing was a HUGE breach of protocol and every educator I have spoken to (in and out of district) was shocked to hear he allowed certain students additional time to complete the test. I understand that what he did was pull out certain children from the class who didn’t put a mark in an “answer bubble” for every question and had them “complete the test” that way. He wasn’t feeding them answers, but what he did was completely wrong under the protocols of the test.

Guest
Kristin Hoover
1 year 3 months ago

Ransford did nothing different than is done at every other school. There is a personal issue between Ransford and Sanville that caused Sanville to take action against him. This personal issue has nothing to do with Ransford, but is entirely about Sanville. Chadds Ford has the lowest test schools of any of the elementary schools and you also have to ask about how much pressure was placed on Ransford under the circumstances. Sanville’s intense personal dislike for Ransford is at the heart of this one. The kids and parents will suffer and it all has to do with Sanville’s “never better” leadership which unfortunately never gets better.

Guest
Observing
1 year 3 months ago

This is laughably incorrect. However I know that no amount of discussion will change your hatred to John Sanville so I will not bother.

Guest
Kristin Hoover
1 year 3 months ago

There is nothing laughable about this situation.