The Northeastern School District’s special meeting to formally suspend Superintendent Shawn Minnich and appoint an acting superintendent was filled with teary-eyed supporters.
The suspension comes nearly six months after he was charged in a domestic-violence incident, about which the school board has remained silent despite numerous requests to comment from The York Dispatch. A ruling by the Professional Standards and Practices Commission, which is an arm of the state Department of Education, prompted the suspension.
The meeting: The special meeting began with an administrator, Jen Spence, reading a letter of support for Minnich written by recent Northeastern graduate Adolfo Salinas.
“He was a great leader and a great friend,” according to the letter.
The board members were vocally upset with the decision to suspend Minnich. Many, such as Kevin Gebhard, took several moments before voting “yes” to the action item. Others, such as Robert Tabachini, took the time to voice disappointment before the vote.
“I’m very upset this decision was made without his day in court,” Tabachini said.
Once the motion to suspend Minnich without pay was passed with several “with deep regrets, I vote yes,” statements by board members, the second action item to appoint Dr. Stacey Sidle as acting superintendent was passed unanimously. President Margie Walker thanked Sidle for stepping up.
After the motions, the floor was opened for comments. Lloyd Douglas, a retired school teacher who said he has lived in the district his entire life, expressed his dissatisfaction with the process for approving Minnich as superintendent and for not having Minnich’s duties revoked immediately.
“I love you people, but someone needs to take the consequences of hiring this man,” Douglas said. “A gigantic mistake has been made, and someone needs to be held accountable.”
He stated that he was very close to asking the board to resign.
Many of those there in support of Minnich asked that positive things be printed related to the issue but refused to comment, saying that it was “inappropriate for a newspaper.”
“There’s two sides to every story, and the only thing being reported is her side,” Spence said, referring to Minnich’s wife.
Despite requests for Minnich’s side, those in attendance chose not to comment.
The charges: On Dec. 4, Minnich allegedly entered the home of his estranged wife, Kathy Minnich, and physically assaulted her boyfriend, Christopher Leh. He also is accused of threatening to kill Leh.
Mary Brungard, Kathy Minnich’s mother, said after the meeting Thursday that she has stood by Minnich throughout the last few months, which has cost her being able to see or talk with her grandchildren.
“He does not deserve this,” Brungard said. “He made a mistake of a couple of seconds and he’s been vilified for it for months. It speaks strongly to his character that he’s been through this all and is still such a strong person.”
Minnich, who is free on bail, has been charged with aggravated assault, burglary, making terroristic threats, simple assault, criminal trespass, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and harassment. According to an earlier report, it is the aggravated assault charge that gave the state Department of Education jurisdiction to seek discipline.