Some Reading School Board members unhappy with superintendent's firing

Some board members unhappy with superintendent's firing

READING, Pa. - A major shakeup in the Reading School District sent the superintendent packing, just days before four new board members are set to take office.

Carlinda Purcell's termination is effective immediately. The school board voted Tuesday night 6-3 to relieve her of her duties.

"This is not something that just happened, this is a process. A process that went back to June," said Pierre Cooper, the school board's president, who added Purcell was unable to get along with the board.

Cooper called the firing unfortunate, but he said it was the right thing to do to resolve Purcell's rocky relationship with the board.

Cooper said Purcell refused to help resolve a $40 million gap in the district's 2012-2013 budget. He also claimed she failed to regularly visit district schools and submit a balanced 2013-2014 budget in a timely manner, and he said her leadership style led to a decline in employee morale.

"Our goal now is to find someone who will commit to this district, not just by words but by deeds," said Cooper.

Eddie Moran is one of four new board members set to start on Monday. He said Purcell's firing will handicap them and put them at a disadvantage to help turn the district around. Others claimed the firing process lacked transparency.

"Obviously, they didn't give me an opportunity to know if she was capable or not, which is a question a lot of the community has," said Moran.

Purcell was in her second year of a five-year contract. She was suspended in July for five days, for reasons that have not been released. Then, Purcell took a medical leave of absence effective Nov. 7.

Purcell was unavailable for comment Wednesday. It has not been determined if she will be paid for the remaining time in her contract.

Cooper said he hoped to have a new superintendent in office by June. In the meantime, Karen Gokay will serve as the acting superintendent.

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