Superintendent at district in turmoil resigns

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 1, 2014 11:33 PM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Outgoing Fairfield Area School District Superintendent Bill Chain has been universally praised by parents.

(Fairfield, Adams County) -- The superintendent of the Fairfield Area School District, which has been engulfed by controversy, is stepping down. But at a public meeting Monday, parent after parent begged the board to reject Bill Chain's resignation.

Those calls didn't get addressed by the board.

Instead, five members voted to accept Chain's resignation. 

He'll go on administrative leave December 23rd and officially retire at the end of June 2015.

Parents offered enthusiastic praise for the outgoing superintendent at Monday night's meeting, including Laura Dutterer, who stood at the mic with her son and daughter.

"We are truly, truly devastated that you are leaving our district. I do not feel that you really want to leave. But if this board has any conscience, has any respect for this community, you will look to what matters to these guys," she says, as tears rolled down her face.

"This is what matters and as a board, if you accept his resignation, then you're not respecting what the people and these children in this community want and need."

Sara Laird, who has led a campaign against many of the board's actions, added: "Our children feel this. I'm scared at how many staff are going to leave." 

Three board members - Marcy Van Metre, Pamela Mikesell, and Lonny Whitcomb, Jr. - voted against accepting Chain's resignation.

Whitcomb Jr. also questioned why the board couldn't offer a one-year probationary contract to Chain.

The board's solicitor has said that wasn't possible, and she refused to discuss her reasoning with WITF. The board also blocked consulting with another outside lawyer, even as Whitcomb Jr. presented evidence that others he consulted disagreed with the board's solicitor.

Speaking to WITF, Chain says he can't detail what the board might have offered, but insists he felt no outside pressure.

Chain did say his departure is best to help the community move forward.

The current president of the board, Chuck Hatter, did not agree to speak to WITF.

In recent months, the Fairfield Area School District Board has faced questions about its transparency, and its former president Brad Rigler, who posted questionable videos to youtube, recently left the board.

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