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

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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