By John Chambless
Statement issued Oct. 25:
It is most unfortunate that Holly Manzone chose to resign, especially so close to the end
of her term. The administration and Board want to thank her for her service and wish
Holly Manzone's departure letter made serious allegations that must be addressed.
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.
Much has been made over the issue of parents sending children to our schools while
living outside of the district. 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
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.
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.
What can be confirmed is that no "deals" have been made. 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.
Friends and Constituents;
First, let me state in no uncertain terms: There is no secret deal that has been reached with any resident of this district with regards to any residency issues during this School Board's and this Superintendent's tenure. Any insinuation to the contrary is a defamatory statement of false facts. I challenge any District Resident, Non-Resident or former Board Member to show evidence to the contrary. We have discussed residency issues, both in executive session (as appropriate when involving a specific individual or family), and in public (as we did Monday night at a Policy Committee meeting prior to the regular Board Meeting). Our district, as have many other districts, pursues issues of residency status through many different means. Our enforcement of residency status has always conformed State Code. No one attends our schools without paying taxes or tuition as prescribed by PA School Code and PA State legal statutes. Our District Policy, as discussed Monday night, states this clearly.
Second, we still hold every single committee meeting we have always held as a School Board. However, since we have had very sparse attendance from the public at committee meetings, and since we actually heard from concerned citizens that wanted a less complicated schedule of meetings so they can attend more, we changed or schedule. Now, we hold most (not all) of our committee meetings as part of our regular monthly Work Session meetings (2nd Monday of each month). In this fashion we refer to these meetings as a "Committee of the Whole", which means that each and every Board Member (not just a few in small groups) is invited, in fact expected, to attend. As has been experienced by those who regularly attend these meetings, they can be quite lengthy, but it puts a substantially higher percentage of the District Board's business in public light because it is fostering higher attendance than we were experiencing when we held separate committee meetings. In fact, one of the only committees we do not do this for is the Curriculum, Education and Technology Committee, formerly chaired by Dr. Manzone. This committee meets immediately prior to the regular monthly Work Session, but typically only garners a majority of Board Members to attend (versus having all at the Work Session) because of scheduling conflicts.
We can debate from Unionville to California our respective opinions of our award-winning district, past practices of prior Boards as it relates to executive sessions, and whether it's appropriate that the press received a Board member's letter of resignation to the Board before the Board even received it. But please, let's make sure we are having this discussion in the context of factual reality.
Vic Dupuis, UCFSD Board Member