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Three resignations accepted at final Board of Ed meeting for 2019

December 23, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Canfield's Superintendent and two Board of Education members turned in their resignations at the Dec. 18 school board meeting for consider. Superintendent Alex Geordan, and school board members Phil Bova and Craig Olson all turned in letters of resignation.

As the school board meeting started, those in attendance noticed Geordan's chair was empty and his name plaque was removed. Earlier in the day he cleared out his desk.

Following the regular meeting agenda items, Board President Dave Wilkeson brought up an agreement made with Geordan for his resignation. Geordan had three-and-a-half years left on his contract.

"Will this (resignation) cost the district money?" asked Bova.

Wilkeson simply stated "yes" and would not say how much. He then called for a vote to accept the resignation, which passed 4-1 with Bova casting the no vote.

The second vote, which was unanimous, was naming John Tullio as interim superintendent effective until July 1, 2020. That time would give the board a chance to find a new Superintendent.

Following the vote for Tullio, Craig Olson presented his resignation to Wilkerson, which he said was for personal reasons.

"It is with great sadness that I am resigning from the Canfield Local Schools Board of Education," he said. "My vision and the vision of the current Board majority no longer match and it is my belief that this board has chosen to go down a path with which I choose not to be associated. I wish our students, staff, and administrators nothing but the best as the district moves forward."

Olson's resignation was accepted in a 4-0-1 vote with him abstaining.

The third resignation was from Phil Bova, whose term was up at the end of December anyway.

"This resignation is symbolic," he said.

Bova, who had 28 years in the Canfield school system serving as teacher, assistant principal, then ran for school board in 2012. He said several years ago it became apparent the Chief of Police and Superintendent did not share the same vision for school safety.

"Mr. Geordan is a former elementary school teacher and principal and is very protective of the students," Bova said in a prepared statement. "

He did not want police to question students in the office unless they were asked to do so. I share this belief."

He said last year a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Canfield Police and the Board that said "in case of a threat the School Resource Officer (SRO) was to be notified. He said this was "a significant change from past years."

The incident that started everything, according to Bova, was on Sept. 12 when a threat was made by an 11-year-old male student. The principal mishandled the situation by not contacting the SRO and Goerdan was accused of downplaying the situation.

At the October school board meeting, Police Chief Chuck Colucci and seven uniformed officers attending the meeting and a speech was read that Bova said "inflamed the crowd."

"Next on stage was the father of the victim," Bova said. "He acted like a raving lunatic, screaming and carrying on until we asked that he be removed. I watched as the Chief put out his right arm and motioned with his hand for his officers to stand back. Finally the father was removed with several others. My question is why did city officials participate in such an ambush."

Bova went on to state a meeting was set with State Representative Don Manning, who said he would he would ask the State Attorney General to investigate the school system.

"Rep. Manning never contacted anyone in the system to find out the facts, but chose to grandstand, getting his name in the paper and going on the radio," Bova said. "How can a lawmaker come to a conclusion without knowing all the facts."

He said the second ambush came at the November meeting as Boris again "screams and carries on" during public presentation and was asked to leave the meeting after causing a disruption directed at Geordan.

The final incident, Bova stated, was when Chief Colucci was asked to present the list of 22 incidents was put together, given to the board, and according to Bova were made public and should not have been.

As for Geordan's resignation stemming from these incidents, Bova said, "Mr. Geordan has done everything that was asked of him by the Board. Why did this happen? Was it personal?"

"I can only ask why did this happen?" Bova continued. "What is the cost financially and to our reputation? Will people still move to Canfield so their children can go to our schools? Two middle school students arguing over washing dishes! City officials who do not care about our community. Wow!"

A vote was held on Bova's request to resign and it passed 3-0-2 with Bova and Olson abstaining.

After the meeting Wilkerson released the following statement, "The Board of Education is proud of the progress of Canfield Local Schools under Mr. Geordan's leadership and recognizes the many accomplishments the District has achieved during his time as Superintendent. But at this time the Board needs to answer the call of its community and transition a new leader into the Superintendency. The Board will promptly begin a search for a Superintendent whose skill set is compatible with the goals and vision of the Board, the District and the Canfield community," he said. "We need to focus on rebuilding relationships within our community and moving our District forward."

After the meeting, Boris said, "For the people that are no longer around, it is a good thing. It is a shame that it had to come to this."

He spoke with Wilkeson after the meeting and shook his hand after thanking him for his efforts in the situation.

The Board of Education will begin 2020 with the organizational meeting at 6 p.m. on Jan. 15 with one unfilled board seat and the interim superintendent.



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