News

Parents say district fails to hold superintendent accountable

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 15, 2015 4:10 AM
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Parents packed an elementary school in the Northern Lebanon School District to question the district's board and its superintendent.

(Jonestown, Lebanon County) -- The president of a Lebanon County school board turned over his post amid heavy criticism for what many call a lack of accountability and transparency in the district.

But the calls for change have not died down.

David Hauck recently resigned as president after getting questioned about his behavior towards the district's high school basketball coach, but remains on the Board.

At a crowded meeting Tuesday night, parent after parent turned their attention to Northern Lebanon's Superintendent Don Bell.

Rachel Sekellick has a fourth grade son in the district's schools, and says Bell engages in a campaign of deceit, intimidation, and coercion.

"Teachers are fearful of even speaking out and asking for help because if you ask for help that's a sign of weakness, and if that's a sign of weakness, then someone can replace you."

Many parents say under his leadership, student's concerns haven't been addressed and that the district has violated state regulations.

Rachel Sekellick says the breaking point was the district losing a coach.

"Coach Bouchette was so much more than just a basketball coach. He took the time with these kids, he was there with them on weekends, he was there with them through the summer if they didn't have parents around," she says.

Parents also question Bell's contract.

It includes a vehicle allowance and bonuses that can push total compensation above $175,000 for a district of about 2,500 students. A group called Northern Lebanon Parents has also formed to push for change.

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Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Northern Lebanon School District Superintendent Don Bell. A number of parents say Bell doesn't look up during public comment, arguing it shows his arrogance. Bell says he is taking detailed notes.

 "Those things are something that some of the things that can be done about and some that can't and I'm sorry for the ones that can't, but the ones that can we'll certainly look at," says Bell.

Bell says he can't address the personnel matter with Coach Bouchette. But he says he's ready to talk about academics.

"I hope that people can get in direct contact one on one a little bit more with their local administrator or their local teacher," adds Bell.

Meanwhile, the board appointed a new president at Tuesday's meeting.

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