Former York Suburban superintendent charged with damaging colleague's vehicle

Written by Ted Czech/The York Daily Record | Nov 28, 2017 12:59 PM

(York) -- Former York Suburban Supt. Michele Merkle was caught on video damaging two vehicles that belonged to the district's former assistant superintendent, according to criminal charges filed Tuesday.

She scratched the paint and put screws in the tires, according to charges.

Merkle, who started working for the district in 1990, faces two counts of criminal mischief, according to a Tuesday news release from District Attorney Tom Kearney.

"Merkle was observed on video on multiple occasions causing damage to vehicles owned by the victim Patricia Maloney," the release states. "Each of these incidents occurred while on school property."

Merkle admitted to York County Detective Paul Pelaia on Nov. 22 that she damaged two of Maloney's vehicles in September, according to charging documents.

The former superintendent, 54, of the 1900 block of Vicki Drive, Spring Garden Township, is scheduled for a preliminary arraignment and hearing on Jan. 10, according to District Judge Jennifer J.P. Clancy's office. 

Merkle and Maloney resign

The two women worked closely at York Suburban, with Maloney serving as assistant superintendent for a decade. Maloney announced her retirement over the summer, setting her last day as Sept. 15.

In October, the Dover Area School District hired Maloney as a temporary assistant superintendent for three months.

Merkle also submitted her resignation in September, while still on medical leave, shortly before a school board meeting.

The day after she tendered her resignation, Sept. 26, Merkle emailed several board members, writing that this was "particularly difficult" for her to send "as I am sure that any communication from me is met with skepticism." She offered to share "strategic thoughts and information."

Merkle was paid $53,445 for her unused vacation days, sick time and personal leave, according to a resignation and release agreement.

Damage reported

On Sept. 11, Maloney reported she had driven her white 2014 Jeep Cherokee to work at York Suburban High School, 1800 Hollywood Drive, Spring Garden Township, documents state.

Maloney said that later that day, at 5:15 p.m., she left the school to respond to her home, but that she had to be back at the school for a meeting at 6:30 p.m. When she arrived home, she noticed that there was a screw in one of the Jeep's tires. Maloney then drove another vehicle, a red 2014 Volvo S60, back to the school, documents state.

Then, at 9:15 p.m., Maloney walked out of the high school, and found a screw placed by one of her Volvo's tires and numerous new scratches on the car's trunk area and side panel. The damages to the Volvo totaled about $1,700, documents state.

In the days that followed, Maloney was given surveillance video from the school district, which showed Merkle scratching Maloney's Jeep on Sept. 11 in the early afternoon. She is also seen bending down in front of the left-side driver's tire. The damages to the Jeep caused a total of about $1,900 in damage, documents state. 

The surveillance footage also showed that about 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 11, Merkle scratched Maloney's red Volvo and put something in front of the left-side driver's tire, documents state.

Kyle King, a spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, said Tuesday Spring Garden Township police asked the county detectives to undertake the investigation because of a conflict of interest. District Attorney Tom Kearney, he said, agreed to take on the case.

King referred questions about the conflict to Spring Garden Township Police. POlice Chief George Swartz could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.

Maloney statement

Ed Paskey, attorney for Maloney, released a statement Tuesday, stating in part that Maloney "has been intentionally targeted and victimized through a pattern of vandalism and professional intimidation. There is absolutely no justification for, or motive behind, these inexplicable actions. At no point were questions raised about any inappropriate behavior by Dr. Maloney."

The statement asks for privacy for Maloney and her family and "internal peace" for Merkle.

Jeff Marshall, an attorney in York, said in a text message Tuesday that he will be entering his appearance to represent Merkle. He declined to be interviewed.

Check back for additional information.

Staff reporter Dylan Segelbaum contributed to this story.



This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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