Lehigh Valley

Teachers' union president critical of ASD superintendent

Debra Tretter offers

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - You'd have been hard-pressed to find anyone not paid to bear witness or on the payroll attending Thursday night's Allentown School District Board of Directors meeting who didn't have a beef about something.

First up was Debra Tretter, head of the Allentown Education Association, who issued a verbal tongue-lashing in the direction of Superintendent C. Russell Mayo over what she called assignment changes made as late as August 25th, thus undermining teachers' ability to adequately prepare for the first day of class on September 2nd, and an overall deteriorating working environment that is sending teachers fleeing the district.

While Tretter is no stranger to offering harsh criticism of Mayo, her comments Thursday night were particularly fierce and most of all, direct.

She said Mayo was responsible for creating a culture of "disrespect and incompetence" before saying the district has some serious problems.

"This district not only has a fiscal crisis, but you also have a serious personnel crisis," she told the board.

And the buck stops not with Harry Truman, but with one man, Tretter said.

"This crisis begins and ends with the superintendent who has created an environment where incompetence, unprofessionalism, and disrespect toward employees is acceptable," she told directors.

Tretter added the Allentown Education Association filed a grievance on August 20th regarding the late position assignments for teachers during her speech.

Mayo did not issue a comment during the meeting to her allegations.

Teachers weren't the only audience members vying for ASD's Rodney Dangerfield moniker.

The majority of audience members were dressed identically - black pants, black polo and button-down shirts with the word SECURITY splashed across their back and an ASD logo adorned above their left breast - and their complaints were the same:  the district is shooting dirty pool when it comes to contract negotiations with them, a clear sign of lack of respect..

Representatives of Security Professionals of America said they deserve far better treatment from the district than what they are receiving.

One director not impressed was Scott Armstrong.

"You guys didn't do yourselves any favors with me," he told security guards, adding that he didn't appreciate their negotiating tactics.

In terms of voting, the board directed Mayo to issue a preliminary report on a task force to combat ASD's dropout rates in time for the Education Committee meeting in October.

The direction came after much debate and compromise of a resolution brought forth by Director Ce Ce Gerlach near the conclusion of the meeting.

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