Sullivan resigns as LASD Board President

Duane Sullivan, Littlestown Area School District (LASD) President, has resigned after board member Brian Lawyer called for a special session to remove him after last Monday’s three-hour board meeting.

Interim Superintendent Don Bell said, “Obviously the decision to resign was Mr. Sullivan’s to make. His resignation will be accepted on Monday, and the board will vote on a replacement.”  The public meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the board room.

Reached for comment, Sullivan said, “I love what I’m doing for the district, and I love what I’m doing for the kids and their parents.” But, he added, the district is no longer benefitting from him as president because they are concentrating on him instead of what should be the focus, so he will gracefully step down. Sullivan will continue to serve as a board member.

He said that the last few months of “baseless accusations” and “false allegations” have taken a toll on him, but he has been bolstered by residents who continue to support him. “I’ve always tried to do the right thing,” he said.

Lawyer said that Sullivan’s removal as president was necessary to get the board to work together. “All recent events demonstrated that this wasn’t working,” Lawyer added, referring to the board meetings that were often lengthy and contentious. “It’s been uncomfortable, but now we can move forward, take care of the students and the teachers, and move on.”

At Monday’s meeting, two board policies created division among board members – Policy 006, which governs how meetings are conducted, and Policy 012, concerning solicitor contact.

Policy 006 resulted in a heated discussion concerning what should and should not be included in meeting rules. At issue was Sullivan’s insistence that small group rules be left in place. The board initially voted against the new policy, but member Steven Yerger requested a motion to reconsider the decision.

Board Vice President Nick Lovell stated that the committee had been working on Policy 006 for four months and was frustrated that the board didn’t approve it. “We need to get past this policy and focus on more important pressing items.” He later told members that by voting against the new policy, they were “voting to knowingly and willfully violate the school code.”

Lawyer urged the board members to consider approving the policy. “There’s nothing there to object to. It lays everything out. There’s no more redundancies. There’s no more contradictions.”

Sullivan said he opposed removing small group rules because the previous board put them in to make meetings “less static, less dictatorial, and more at ease.”

Lawyer suggested that Sullivan’s desire to keep the small group rules was an attempt at controlling the board, but Sullivan denied it.

Superintendent Bell told board members that if they voted no, they would knowingly be in contradiction of the school code. He added that if the vote approved the policy, there would still be an opportunity later to take it back through committee to reimplement some small group rules.

The second vote approved Board Policy 006 7-2, with Sullivan and Fred Miller opposing.

Policy 012 became a heated topic in March when board member Janelle Ressler requested that Sullivan disclose the details of two meetings he had with the former district solicitor. At Monday’s meeting, Ressler once again questioned why the subject of those sessions had not been made public. She has previously suggested that these meetings were personal and not board-related.

“I don’t frankly trust the president when he contacts our solicitor. I do not want him to go to the solicitor behind the superintendent’s back. I think you want to work your way around the superintendent so you can do things on your own,” Lawyer said.

Sullivan said Friday that he met with the solicitor to discuss his concerns about how board members were conducting business and that the solicitor had advised him not to disclose what they had discussed.

The board voted to approve Policy 012 in a 7-2 vote, with Sullivan and Miller opposing.

The motion to remove Sullivan as the board president came at the end of the meeting.

“I don’t trust this president,” Lawyer said, “and I don’t trust him to be in the room, negotiating with the next superintendent.” LASD is seeking a new superintendent after the resignation of the former head last November.

In response, Sullivan said, “I don’t have a problem with being released as president of this board if that’s what you all wish. That doesn’t bother me, but keep in mind, I’m still one of nine, so wherever I sit, I’ll still exist.”

Featured image:  Duane Sullivan

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Judith Cameron Seniura is a freelance reporter. She began her journalism career in the early ‘70s and has written for newspapers, magazines, and other media in Ontario, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, Nebraska, San Antonio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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