Superintendent addresses Friday Facebook incident

MANSFIELD – A threatening Facebook post last Friday caused more than 250 parents to keep their children home from school in the Liberty and Mansfield schools.

Superintendent Keith Yarger talked about the incident briefly during Tuesday’s Southern Tioga School Board meeting.

“On Friday, we had a difficult situation, but in working with Trooper Green of the state police, he assured the district there were no threats founded for the district on that day,” he said.

He also said that the state police searched the house of Michael D. Peditto, 25, of Wellsboro, who allegedly made threats to shoot honor roll students and kindergartners, but “there were no weapons in the house and no threats.”

The uproar started when Yarger said he started getting phone calls about the postings that morning and he sent a phone message using Parent Link to make everyone aware of what was going on.

“We ended up getting a lot of phone calls that morning asking if we saw the posts,” he said.

After the district filled out a state police victim’s report, police arrested Peditto, who was charged with three felony counts of making terroristic threats and three misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct.

He was arraigned and sent to the Tioga County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail, and his preliminary hearing was set for next Tuesday.

“If we were under any threat, school would have been canceled that day,” Yarger added.

In other business, the board briefly discussed the 2014-15 budget without giving any details.

Business manager Kathy Ciaciulli reminded the board it still must make a decision whether to opt out and not raise taxes above the 2.8 percent Act 1 index.

A resolution must be adopted by Jan. 30.

Outgoing board member Barb Shull said the incoming board “should have some input and that the budget is a work in progress.”

Another outgoing board member, Frank Kollar said the board should “first solve the overall budget and the direction it is taking with school district.”

“Any budget before that would be invalid. Regardless of this board or the new board, you must follow good budgeting procedures,” Kollar said.

Board president Ivan Erway noted that the board should have “a clearer picture” of what the budget will look like before the Jan. 30 date.

Outgoing board member Sue Jaquish, who sits on the budget committee, noted that the “numbers have all changed from our budget meeting, so we just need to move forward and let the new board put that together.”

Four new board members will be seated during the Dec. 5 reorganization meeting at Mansfield High School.

In other business, the board:

Accepted the resignation of director of curriculum and technology Brenda Freeman effective Nov. 11. Freeman left to become superintendent of the Galeton School District.

Transferred W.L. Miller principal Sam Rotella to become the new director of curriculum and technology retroactive to Nov. 6.

Transferred head teacher at Miller, Patty White to be interim principal, retroactive to Nov. 6 until the position is filled. Applications will be due by Dec. 5.

Approved a supplemental contract with special education teacher Kyle Smith as interim head teacher at Miller until the principal position is filled.

Employed Dakkari Ayers as prearranged short term substitute special education teacher at Miller until the principal position is filled.

Approved the second reading of the district’s new nepotism policy with one vote against from Shull.

Approved the online meal payment program “My School Bucks” which replaces another software program that is not compatible with Nutra Kids.

The new program charges $1.95 per transaction, saving parents money, as the old one charged $2.75 per transaction, Ciaciulli said.