We’ve covered some school board issues in earlier posts, focusing on the fact that it's a thankless job and fewer and fewer people are willing to serve. This morning I’ve received some information about what’s going on in the North Tonawanda school district, which makes you wonder; of those who do serve, are any at all competent? And what can be done to clean up this mess, and who should be held accountable? Can't we at least expect a school board to check references before hiring a superintendent?
This is what I’ve received from some very reliable sources, it will make you sick:
I’m told that the North Tonawanda City School Board recently offered Superintendent Vincent J. Vecchiarella, $160,000 to leave the district with nearly four years remaining on his contract. According to those same sources, Vecchiarella declined the offer, instead telling the school board that they’d need to pay him the full value of the contract whether he left the district tomorrow or at the conclusion of his contract, which reportedly expires in 2010.
Intense labor strife, accusations of dirty business dealings by the purchaser of the former Lowry Middle School building, and attempts to reward loyal followers by hiring them to important instructional positions for which they weren’t qualified have made Vecchiarella’s brief tenure with the district tumultuous.
Even more disturbing, are the accusations that Vecchiarella has made numerous unsolicited phone calls to the cell phones of female high school students. According to a parent of a 16 year-old student whose friend was one of those allegedly contacted by Vecchiarella, “It has to be the worst kept secret in North Tonawanda.”
Creating turmoil in a community is nothing new for Vecchiarella. A recent Tonawanda News story recently quoted a source who worked in the Pine Valley School District during Vecchiarella’s tenure there, but chose to remain anonymous, fearing reprisals from Vecchiarella. “I feel bad for the people in North Tonawanda,” the source said. “If anyone came out here and actually talked to people, they never would have hired him.”
In the same Tonawanda News Article, Arlene McLaughlin said she’s seen Vecchiarella’s penchant for creating teacher turmoil firsthand. McLaughlin is the director of career and technical education and a longtime teacher at Buckeye Union High School District in Buckeye, Ariz., where Vecchiarella was once superintendent. McLaughlin indicated that Vecchiarella did “unbelievable damage to the Buckeye Union district.” In the story, she said that Vecchiarella ripped the community apart by forcing people to battle one another. This, she said, to cover up the fact that he was completely incapable of doing his job.
Teachers in North Tonawanda echo McLaughlin’s sentiments. One teacher, who also declined to be identified fearing retribution by Vecchiarella, said, “In my nearly 20 years with this district, Vincent Vecchiarella is without a doubt the worst thing to happen to this district. He has been caught looking through the desk drawers of teachers and secretaries, he calls girls on their cell phones. I mean this guy is disgusting.”
“Even worse, everything about Mr. Vecchiarella’s actions tells us that he doesn’t care about the kids”, he added. “Class sizes are sky high, even at the elementary level. Course offerings, including Advanced Placement at the High School, have been cut. How are our kids going to have any chance at being successful beyond high school?”