The Tyrone Area School Board approved in an eight to one vote a waiver last night so that school district Business Administrator Cathy Peachey can become a candidate for the superintendency when Dr. William Miller retires.
Miller’s contract is up in 2010.
The approval grants the district to request to the PA Secretary of Education to waive the technical requirements of PA School Code Section 1003.
The waiver is specifically for the three years of teaching experience required to be eligible for a superintendency. The district looked at an innovative urban plan at the national level that encompasses an alternative route to the superintendent position as an example, because there presently is not a program directed towards rural school districts such as Tyrone.
The program was the BROAD Residency Program In Urban Education, and Miller felt it was appropriate for an individual like Peachey who is highly qualified with school experience to prepare for the superintendency, but doesn’t have the teaching experience.
“This is not a guarantee,” said Miller. “This is not a vote for her as superintendent. This is a vote to give her the opportunity to pursue what is necessary so that she can be considered for the position.”
Board member Ray Detwiler voted “no” to the waiver basing his reason on a press release from the superintendent’s office saying administration was looking at the BROAD Residency Program In Urban Education, when Detwiler feels they’re not.
“We’re applying to the Department of Education for a mandate waiver to hire someone who does not have the qualifications of superintendent,” said Detwiler. “And they’re trying to say we’re not hiring, but that’s what a mandate waiver is – it’s an application for employment for somebody who doesn’t have qualification.”
He added, “Therefore, we’re not giving all the qualified and experienced individuals in Pennsylvania the opportunity for this job. We’re shutting it down and naming one person and that’s wrong.”
Peachey is a Thiel College graduate in accounting and business, and has varied experience as business administrator at Tyrone and two and a half years at the Huntingdon Area School District. She was exposed to the biggest challenges in the Devon Fraud Case, in which she worked hand-in-hand with Miller, legal counsel and the school board enabling TASD to successfully recover all funds due it (over $13,000,000) during the three-year period of litigation.
Peachey will now be able to bypass the three years of teaching experience, but the Pennsylvania State University and PA Secretary of Education mapped out an extensive series of stringent requirements in the state waiver application. There are 60 credits of “rigorous” graduate level courses, particularly addressing curriculum and instruction and teacher development.
Upon successful completion of this course work, PSU will certify her for the Principal and Letter of Eligibility certifications.
“Every December there has to be an update showing she completed the necessary credits, necessary grades and she’ll have to participate in the PA Inspired Leadership Program,” said Miller. “She must be in the classroom 10 percent to 20 percent of the weekly schedule to observe the techniques that teachers use in meeting the standards.”
The waiver application has the support and recommendation of Stinson Stroup, Executive Director of the PA Association of School Administrators, who Miller says is knowledgeable of the TASD and Peachey’s work.
Peachey was very excited and grateful for the board’s support last night with the eight to one vote. She said it showed her that it is something worthwhile pursuing, and that she has been considering this over the last several years, but she didn’t think there was an opportunity until meeting with the Department of Education to seek the waiver.
“This is the beginning of a long process and I know that there’s no guarantees at the end,” said Peachey. “The board will have to take a vote when Dr. Miller retires and they seek their replacement. It’s something I’m interested in doing and regardless of what happens in the end, I think I’m going to grow from the experience.”
“I feel I have a very good knowledge base of what is expected of the position, and I’m not making light of the teaching experience; I know that’s going to be an issue, but I am willing to go into the classroom as required by the Dept. of Ed., spend my time in there and learn as much as I can through my course work and my observations that are required. Hopefully, that will give me the knowledge base to do what is expected of the superintendent.”
Board member Amy Stever thinks it’s good to know a candidate’s ethics and integrity as she knows Peachey’s, and she wishes her all the best in her pursuit.
“There’s no guarantee for her to get the superintendency, but as a school district employee she is entitled to professional development,” said Stever. “To take a path to do 600-level educational leadership courses I think will only enhance her position here even as business manager.”
Miller stated that Peachey’s pursuit to become a candidate will not interfere with her present work in the district. He also said that payment for the credits are strictly by teacher contract; receiving the same amount of funds from the district as a teacher or administrator would.
“I think she’s an outstanding candidate,” stated Miller. “She has the ethics and I’ve worked with her for 14 1/2 years mentoring her, debriefing her and worked with her on every personnel case I’ve dealt with.”
“There’s nobody I know better professionally than she, and I think she’s extremely capable; and I would be comfortable with her from a personal aspect, but it’s not my decision.”
Miller added that this waiver and process may become a model for other school districts throughout the state to pursue alternative pathways for individuals who are highly qualified to serve as superintendent of schools.