Aug 21, 2011

Armstrong Questions Acting Superintendent

Guest Post by Scott Armstrong
New Superintendent OK With Duplicity?
The following quote from Russ Mayo who has been promoted to acting superintendent appears in today’s Morning Call article, “The human cost of school reform”
“Russ Mayo, who was elevated from deputy superintendent to acting superintendent Thursday, defended his former boss.
Mayo said Friday he never witnessed or heard of Zahorchak threatening an employee. Mayo said Zahorchak's Pathways plan presented a clear vision that will be continued.
‘I always felt personally comfortable with asking him questions about it and even at times challenging him on it,’ Mayo said. "The thing I admire most about him was his focus was constantly on the students, which was clearly his concern in the district."
The following information is also from today’s Steve Esack’s reporting:
“On July 6, 2010 — five days into his new job — Zahorchak called a meeting of more than 20 administrators in which he outlined plans to seek $40 million in grants for six schools, sources at the meeting said. During the meeting Burdette "Buddy" Chapel, then principal of Harrison-Morton Middle School, asked Zahorchak if principals would be let go. Zahorchak, tapping his finger on the table for emphasis, said no.
The meeting ended and Chapel, along with the principals of Central Elementary, Trexler and Raub middle schools, and Allen and Dieruff high schools wrote the grant proposals and submitted them on Friday, July 16.
Their proposals said the schools would install a new governance structure and did not include language about removing principals, according to a copy of an original grant proposal obtained by The Morning Call.
The grant applications, however, were changed over that weekend to say: "The current principal will be removed from the current school-based governance structure," according to the final application filed with the state Department of Education. As a result, Allentown won $7.8 million for six schools and four of six principals — at Harrison-Morton, Central, Allen and Dieruff — were reassigned to other administrative duties.
"We wrote ourselves out of a job," one of the four said.
On Sept. 7, 2010, Zahorchak issued a news release announcing the district had secured school improvement grants. It did not say principals would be removed.”
Clearly then deputy superintendent Russ Mayo had to be aware of his immediate superior’s duplicity in this matter; telling the principals that they would not be let go, then immediately rewriting the grant applications to do exactly the opposite. Yet, Russ Mayo took no action to set the record straight or protest the deception. This would seem to demonstrate a clear lack of integrity and moral fiber. This begs the question; is this the best we can do to fill the void left by Zahorchack's departure?

Scott Armstrong

Editor's Note by Molovinsky: Mr. Armstrong is a candidate for the school board, and the parent of two boys who went through the Allentown School District. I personally approve Mr. Mayo's appointment as acting superintendent, and presume he was attempting to quell the storm down on Penn Street. I look forward to the much needed scrutiny Mr. Armstrong will bring to the board and administration.

26 comments:

binzley said...

Scott Armstrong wastes no time in knocking the new superintendent. This is what is wrong with government and public education. Within days of naming a new superintendent the attacks begin. These baseless (and I am familiar with this grant issue) attacks only serve to make it harder for the leadership of the school district to start school and educate children. When will the adults in Allentown worry more about children and citizens than about scoring cheap political points?

Molovinsky needs to step up and condemn this yahoo and not republish his rubbish.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, please read the editor's note i included with armstrong's piece. i assume that mayo was being diplomatic in not criticizing his former boss, while his new chair seat was still warm from zahorchak. i certainly hope that mayo will undo some zahorchak moves, for instance, return the former principal back to allen. (if he's willing) on the other hand, armstrong has been involved with the schools for years. he is a band parent, you know what that means. he has advocated for the school system to take a position on city policy, not just go along like zahorchak. for instance, the arena may well deprive the school district of future revenue, necessitating a tax increase. this blog welcomes critical analysis, there are enough mindless cheerleaders.

Anonymous said...

Armstrong's concerns are legitimate.

Did Mayo not see the poor treatment of administrators? Or perhaps he feels that was a valid management style?

That concerns me.

I would hope ASD is not restarting from a position of animosity, where prior tensions and a toxic work environment continue to exist under Mayo.

Honestly, this is not a time for diplomacy with the ex superintendent. I am sure he can take care of himself.

The concern is restoring working relationships between the administration, the teachers, and the superintendent.

More importantly, the top priority is providing quality education to the children of Allentown.

GET OVER IT.

GET ON WITH IT.

Leave the drama and lack of transparency to the City of Allentown i.e the Mayor and his Council. They seem to excel and thrive on it.

Chumscrubber

binzley said...

If one does not attack and criticize (even on the first day of a new superintendent,) one is a "mindless cheerleader?"

Anonymous said...

Has there ever been or is there now a public official that you approve of Molovinsky?

michael molovinsky said...

binzley and anon 8:35, again, the post was not written by me, it is a guest post by armstrong. although i agree with chumscrubber that mayo needed not be so diplomatic, i gave him a pass. i believe his appointment as acting superintendent was appropriate. my cheerleader comment refers to the fact that this is not a puff blog, nor is it anonymous.

binzley said...

Acting Superintendent Mayo has a very difficult job ahead. Opening school with a full staff and normal resources is challenging enough.

Schools are the community's responsibility, that is parents, businesses, citizens, churches and of course the all important "tax-payers." If one is not part of the solution, one is part of the problem.

You don't get a pass by saying you did not write the post. You published it!

michael molovinsky said...

gary, i don't ask for a pass, nor do i need one. you defended zahorchak and accused me of negativity on each post, until you commented last post that indeed zahorchak was the wrong man for the job. worse, after turning almost everything upside down, he's gone two weeks before school starts. although i don't agree with armstrong's assertion yet, at this time, i respect his opinions. more relevant, is that he will most likely be on the new school board.

Anonymous said...

“Russ Mayo, who was elevated."

Don't ya mean "elated?"

Anonymous said...

Didn't the new superintendent stand quietly by as Joyce Marin's job and pretty neat salary slipped into the budget, never to be seen by board members till after their vote?

Scott's not wrong.

Anonymous said...

Schools are the community's responsibility, that is parents, businesses, citizens, churches and of course the all important "tax-payers." If one is not part of the solution, one is part of the problem." Binzley

Then perhaps tell why board members remain silent as parents address concerns during regularly scheduled meetings? In what effective business communication course is that tactic taught?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:19, although scott's not wrong, mayo cannot be held accountable for zahorchak's decisions. mayo was assistant superintendent, and it was his job to implement policy by the duly appointed superintendent. i have not heard anything negative about him, and consider his slate clean. i do consider scott's piece a shot across the bow, that the new superintendent, even if just acting, will be held to a higher level of accountability than before. other school directors have expressed the same sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Dear MM,
We are big fans and respect your point of view. But one issue already mentioned is troubling, the Marin hiring and its secrecy.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:32, few were more critical of it than me, but i think it's time to move beyond it. wait until the arena demands that school taxes be used for it's debt service. i doubt that mayo will be the pawlowski advocate that zahorchak was, nor will the new school board allow it.

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

Will Mayo quickly scrap the ridiculous "pre-school" program that Zahorchak implemented for the coming year. That program requires 300 volunteers, and they're 200 short with less than two weeks to go. Obviously the program is a failure.

Zahorchak's stance was that the responsibility caused by any shortfall in volunteers will fall to the principals. I'd prefer that my child's principal is occupied with actually educating the kids.

Anonymous said...

There is no secrecy to Marin's hiring.

It was a political favor done through the Palowski administration.

The chief turnaround officer Zosky engineered it and brokered the deal between Palwoski and Zahorchak.

No one cared about the ramifications, it did not matter.

Zahorchak apologized, typical slime ball move, but what was the point of that. The deal was done.

If anyone was astute enough to notice, at last weeks board meeting, Marin referred to the board as "Council". Nice Freudian slip.

These goons, all four above, only care about their own careers.

The question is, will Mayo follow the same path. We will have to see.

Chumscrubber

Anonymous said...

Where did this Mayo guy grow up? Is he one of us?

michael molovinsky said...

chumscrubber, i would hope that any unnecessary positions created by zahorchak will be eliminated, or that any necessary positions inappropriately filled, will be reassigned.

anon 8;21, i suspect your question is intended to disparage this dialogue. mayo has worked a long time for the school system.

Anonymous said...

Binzley: I agree with Armstrong's assessment of Dr. Mayo 100%. Dr. Mayo is pulling upwards of $175,000a year as Superintendent of one of the largest distrits in PA, he can handle a bit of criticism from little old Scott Armstrong. As an ASD parent and volunteer and an intelligent person with impeccable character, Armstrong will be good for the ASD Board. In light of the Mr. Glazier's apparent attempt (which he denies) to use the school board as his own "pathway to success" (a job with ASD) I think we deserve some selfless citizens we can trust on ASD.

Anonymous said...

Thanks mom.


Scott Armstrong

binzley said...

Anon 12:30

Armstrong may be a great parent with impeccable character, as you say, but if he wants to be a leader responsible for educating the next generation he should start by getting his priorities in order. Attacking a superintendent on day one is petty, mean and very shortsighted.

Allentown needs leaders who will rise above trifling politics and focus on what is best for children not the adults!

steelbreast said...

I think binzley has a point. Perhaps we should give Superintendent Mayo a chance before we start attacking his character.

Anonymous said...

“ binzley said...
Anon 12:30

Armstrong may be a great parent with impeccable character, as you say, but if he wants to be a leader responsible for educating the next generation he should start by getting his priorities in order. Attacking a superintendent on day one is petty, mean and very shortsighted.

Allentown needs leaders who will rise above trifling politics and focus on what is best for children not the adults!”


So writes the person who won’t even sign their name.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

So we should give superintendent Mayo a chance when apparently as deputy he aquiesed to skullduggery. I believe when it comes to educating children a priority must be placed on integrity.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, binzley is gary ledebur. i urged him to use a blogger registered name, and he already had "binzley" most regular readers know that he is gary ledebur, and he is not trying to be anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Armstrong's comments are reasonable, given what was printed in the paper.

Better these issues be aired now rather than six months or a year down the road, if they are a real concern.

Why should anyone trust anything coming out of the administration of the ASD at this point in time?

For years misinformation and intentional inaccuracies have been propagated by these people.

I would not doubt that one of the main groups kept out of the loop would be the board of directors. This is especially so for those who ask questions and want answers.

Given his upcoming responsibilities, pending election of course, I believe Mr. Armstrong is drawing an important line. Transparency is critical. So is humane treatment of the people who are teaching our children.

I would not count on the restoration of prior principal positions. No one wants to send the money back.

Chumscrubber