Saturday, January 21, 2017

Columbia School Board reverses decision - almost!


The Columbia School Board almost reversed course Thursday night when they rehashed a motion from the previous night’s meeting.

At issue was how a vacancy left by Leo Lutz, Jr. in December would be filled. Resident Frank Doutrich had filed paperwork with the court to fill the vacant seat since the board had not made an appointment within the 30-day time frame. During the special meeting Wednesday night, the board had voted to table any motion for a vote pending the outcome of a judge’s decision. At Thursday night’s regular school board meeting, however, President Keith Combs revisited the issue. “I’m looking to make a determination as to whether or not the board can proceed with a vote on the candidates that were interviewed,” he said.

Board Director Kathleen Hohenadel pointed out that the board had voted to table the action the previous evening, until the judge’s decision. “We can't just go ahead and appoint someone now, because it’s a very specific motion tabling until a very specific time,” she pointed out.

But Combs persisted, asking for comments leading to a motion to take the previous night’s action off the table.

Board Director Iris Garrido read from a law stating that if a vacancy is not filled by school directors within 30 days, the court of common pleas can intervene. “It's up to the courts,” she said. “It's not in our hands.”

Nathan Saxton, acting as the board’s attorney, said no official notice of action by the court had been received. “Our office has not received any notification or service of a petition being filed, so it's our position that to our knowledge, there's no petition that has been filed with the courts that would preclude the board from having any jurisdiction over the appointment of the vacancy,” Saxton said.

Garrido explained that the reason the board had decided to delay a vote was due to Doutrich’s petition and the judge’s confusion over what to do with it. Garrido then asked Doutrich, who was present, if he had a copy of the petition with him. He replied he had had it at the previous night's meeting but felt he would not need it at this meeting, since the board had declined to accept it when he offered it the night before.

Doutrich also told the board he was aware that the district solicitor had been talking back and forth with the judge. He also said that Director of Operations Tom Strickler had made a comment indicating there had been communication with the judge. “So this is in the making,” he said.

Saxton then reiterated that under the present circumstances there was nothing precluding the board from acting to make an appointment.
“I'm not going to break the law because you're telling me to break the law,” Garrido told Saxton.

Saxton said that the court would have the authority to vacate any appointment made by the board if the petition were found to exist and appoint the person the board deems most fit. In the absence of that, the board appointment would stand.

Hohenadel said, “I just think the cleanest way is to stick with the motion from last evening that it's tabled. I would hate for us to appoint somebody and then have them pulled back out of that seat because the judge vacated them.” She advised the board to wait for the judge’s decision.

Hohenadel asked Saxton if anyone in the attorneys’ office had had any communication with anyone on the district prior to Wednesday night’s meeting.

Saxton replied that he was informed of allegations that the petition was filed but stressed that he had not seen it. “I was informed from somebody in my office that the district had related somebody claimed a petition was filed,” he said.

Hohenadel chided Saxton. “We as a school board came in last evening, and we hadn't heard any of this, so if there was communication between your office and the district office, I would've hoped there would have been from there some upward communication to the board at some point in time,” she said. “There’s nothing more embarrassing than coming into a public meeting – and people presume that we have information that we don't. It hasn't been shared with us.” Hohenadel then asked Doutrich to submit copies of the petition to the school district on Friday, which he agreed to do.

52 comments:

  1. Thank God, May He Bless Columbia'S Future, we have endured to to MUCH!

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  2. Mike Grab?? Are is children enrolled at Columbia?
    Honestly, Mr Grab, remember you were raised Catholic.

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  3. Does anyone knows what is going on? It sounds like the solicitor is confused about the petition being filed.

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    1. According to the attorney, the district had not received notification that the petition was filed. He stated that it was Doutrich's responsibility to notify, but Doutrich said courthouse personnel told him a sheriff would deliver the documents. Doutrich said personnel seemed confused about procedure. The stance of the attorneys' office is that since the district didn't receive the paperwork, the board is free to appoint. We know the attorneys' office was aware of the petition, however, because on January 12, 2017, attorney Grab asked the Court of Common Pleas judge to dismiss it. Doutrich's January 9, 2017 filing is documented on the Lancaster County Prothonotary's website.

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    2. Cole's right; the documents are filed and can be found here:
      http://prothonotary.co.lancaster.pa.us/civilcourt.public/(S(s5bgmof54r4a0m2dz2e0m1ui))/Case.aspx

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  4. Of note, Mr. Doutrich did not file a petition so he personally could fill the seat, or at least I hope he doesn't believe that. The law is clear, the petition is for a judge to appoint a qualified person to fill the seat. It does not necessary have to be Mr. Doutrich.

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    1. To imply that someone is not a qualified person without personal identification is an act of cowardice.

      Secondly, the law does not state a "qualified person" - it does state "a suitable person from the qualified electors."

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    2. How was either qualified or suitable applied to the hiring criteria for the director of operations position?

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    3. Different topic there; the first is state law. The other is state politics; expect that question ought to be pose to state legislators who apparently had their hands in that deal.

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    4. There was no intention to imply that Mr. Doutrich is not qualified...in fact, I believe he is well qualified. The intent was to point out he is not applying for the position even though he may think so. As we well know, deals go down in the dark all the time...Mr. Doutrich's petition could lead to having a judge appoint someone the DOO or the solicitor suggests!

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    5. Won't be a surprise because the "solicitor" has already asked that this petition be tossed.

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  5. Problem identification:

    It appears that Strickler is pulling out all stops to prevent Mr. Doutrich or anyone else that he does not want ,Like Iris( was denied twice), from getting on the school board.

    The reason: It appears that he is protecting his job, and if good people who have the best interests of the District get on the board they will vote to end the Elanco agreement and the Director position.

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    1. Agreed!!
      How about this to solve our problems in a win-win manner:

      Transfer Strickler to Elanco permanently(never to return being part of the transfer).

      Hollister gets to keep Strickler...Columbia is done with him..Strickler gets to keep a job...No further manipulation of our board occurs.

      Everybody wins!!!!

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    2. Not when he is getting payed all that money!!!!!

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    3. When board manipulation stops and the agreement is ended, whatever Elanco pays him is no longer our concern.

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    4. Remember what a resident said that Strickler told him when he suggested Iris Garrido for a vacant school board seat, "No, we don't want her."

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    5. What's ELANCO going to do with Strickler?????

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    6. Mr. Resch , a person of integrity,stated at an open meeting that Strickler made that comment regarding Iris. Was there and heard it.

      Being true would make this statement, by Strickler, worthy of investigation.

      However, it appeared to be ignored by Hollister.

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  6. Go To Board meetings....question the board on the mountings costs to our district of this Elanco agreement

    Question the board on why the director of operations ,who is employed by Elanco, is permitted to interject his wishes in a meeting when taxpayers must follow rules and are not allowed to interject.

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  7. It seems that many taxpayers believe that the best way for Strickler to serve the best interests of our schools would be....... to resign immediately.

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  8. It may be a good idea to go directly, via e-mail, to the Pa Department of Education and to Elanco board members( whose e-mail addresses) were posted on this site the other day. Taxpayers must find an unfiltered ear for their voices.

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    1. Probably the best idea when contacting Elanco board members by e-mail is to only ask that the agreement is stopped , without mentioning negative thoughts about Strickler.

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    2. Have any ELANCO school board members ever even meet Strickler?
      They won't pass judgement.

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  9. I agree with many that Strickler is behind the confusion. Thankful, Hohenadel started to pick up on it and Doutrich is following thru. Hope they continue and prevail. This agreement with ELANCO had good intentions, but Strickler is messing it up.

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    1. Strickler may get a surprise that he did not anticipate. Great possibility that one of his chosen members is getting nervous about the questionable tactics of the last 4 years.

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  10. Doctor Hollister does not like these anonymous comments.

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    1. Hollister also refuses to meet with Columbia residents other than at a board meeting...it has been tried.

      The only reason that people comment anonymously is because of lack of trust and fear of retribution against themselves or their family. Happened in 1776 also.

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    2. Looking back on this site...

      Dr. Hollister was quoted on this site as saying something to the effect that he considered himself to be one of the most transparent superintendent's in Lancaster county.

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    3. Yes, that's correct I recall that too.

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  11. Every citizen of Columbia should have access to the following documents:

    The entire Elanco agreement.

    The job description and duties of the Director of operations.

    The evaluation process for the directors position.

    The financial figures for this whole agreement.

    A copy of the PDE approval for the agreement .

    A copy of the PDE approval which allows an uncertified person to be hired for the director position.

    A copy of the Senate bill 1332 (including current status) which was written in conjunction with the agreement to provide funds for this trial agreement.

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    1. Great points in this post; read SB 1332 here:

      http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2015&sInd=0&body=S&type=B&bn=1332

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  12. The ad for a director of the Watch and Clock Museum lists many more requirements than were listed for the school director. Check it out and compare for yourself on the site ...Columbia news and reviews. There is true irony here!!!!!!

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    1. Just read this...they want 10 years of experience and demand ethics as one of the core competencies...

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  13. Someone please answer this question.

    Does our school board have any power over the workings of our district or was our district completely turned over to Hollister and Strickler ???????

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    1. The people need a real attorney because this has to be illegal.

      Pa dept of ed should protect us from this . This whole thing stinks!!!

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  14. A person in a management position who decides to "play dirty" invites more scrutiny such as public records searches that define character.

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  15. What's wrong with you people in town? Growing up here , we never took any crap from anybody and we were never afraid of people like the one running the schools now. You are embarrassing yourselves.

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    1. You signed "Anonymous."

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    2. 10 plus years ruling, where were you then, he has cost this town $$$$$, you didn't care, why now, got what he wanted.

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    3. I will to and so did you!!

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  16. I would like you to define how we are embarrassing ourselves? And as far as the schools legal council those gentleman are doing their jobs. They are paid to find loopholes they are lawyers who need their jobs like you and I. I don't like the belittling I am seeing here. Stop name calling & do something or everyone stop whining. What needs done to stop this crap. Any lawyer want to give us advice on a step to take?

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    1. Agreed, the lawyers are paid to find loopholes, but it appears as if the "loophole" they are looking for, in this case, is how to prevent Frank Doutrich from becoming a board member. So it may be the law or legal to do so, but it's backed by personal agenda.

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  17. All this posting stating stay tuned? For what, when is it happening? This needs ended. Do we each need to go to our senator? If so, say what we have no proof of anything. Give me one piece I can take to him, I will do it & I'm sure there will be followers to do the same. Going to school board meetings does nothing. June is 5 months away!!

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    1. Attendance at school board meetings shows the board that the taxpayers of this borough do care what is going on. It is also a way to educate yourself on the topics the board is dealing with. Also a way to observe your elected officials in action, doing what you elected them to do. It is not helping the situation to discourage others from attending board meetings. Residents that cannot attend should be thankful to those that do.

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    2. Think the elected public servants weren't totally involved in this "experiment?"

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  18. People!!!!! Now that I have gotten your attention. Look at the previous post of those proud children of what they have earned. The smiles of these children scream excellence, and we have failed them wholesomely.
    If you want that change. Vote in the primaries and replace the stagnant. Drain the Swamp!

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  19. A friend who works at PDE just got back to me after researching my request.

    NEVER in the history of Pa. schools, that he could find, was a school board member or school board president put in charge of schools as director of operations.

    It is illegal,in his opinion, even if that person is paid by Elanco for the simple reason that we are paying Elanco to pay him. Illegal!!!!!

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  20. Residents of Columbia,it sounds like the situation of the school board is getting out of hand. Ever since we entered into the agreement with ELANCO, hardly anyone knows what is true and what is being falsified or manipulated. It is time for the state to come in and straighten the mess out.

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    1. Correction ... The absence of truth existed long before entering into this agreement. The cloaking of truth, in fact, led toward the agreement.

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    2. Columbia Officials have become known for the absence of the truth and HAVE neglected the Truth.
      Time for an overhaul.
      We are not even a town anymore.
      We are a JOKE.

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  21. Yes why doesn't the PDE do something about this mess time for this agreement to go now

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  22. Does the state know about this? Has someone filed something? Everyone keeps saying hopefully the state will step in does the state know about this is the question? If not the state is not going to step in. Please advise.

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