School board members suing other board members in Fairfield

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Feb 25, 2015 4:45 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

In this 2014 file photo, parents are seen giving a standing ovation to a speaker who loudly criticized some members of the Fairfield Area School Board.

(Fairfield) -- An Adams County school district has been wrapped up in controversy since October, and now, some school board members are suing their fellow directors, stemming from the sudden resignation of the district's superintendent.

Bill Chain submitted his resignation in December under murky circumstances, and despite parents pleading for him to stay.

Fairfield Area School Board members Pam Mikesell, Marcy Van Metre, and Lonny Whitcomb argue they were shut out of discussions about his contract in violation of Pennsylvania's Public School Code and the Sunshine Act.

Plaintiffs' Attorney John Phillips says state regulations require the board to inform the superintendent about it's plans 150 days before a contract expires.

"The board here didn't do that. They never had that public meeting. And the Sunshine Act also requires that their deliberations and their decisions on these types of matters be in public," he says. "There's no question that what they did failed to meet the requirements of the Sunshine Act or Public School Code. How the court deals with that is unfortunately out of our hands."

The defendants didn't respond to requests for comment, but in a court filing addressing the allegations, they argue the resignation was voluntary, so some public notice requirements don't apply.

A court date has not been set.

This is far from the first problem in Fairfield Area School District this school year - its board president stepped down after videos of him surfaced ranting against Congress's apology for slavery - among other things.

Fairfield Area School District lawsuit by Ben Allen

Fairfield Area School district lawsuit response by Ben Allen

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