Holtzman Resigns as MASD Superintendent After Questions Over Contract Shenanigans

For the second time in a 12 months, McKeesport Area College Directors approved the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman.

On the other hand, this time his resignation appears to be permanent.

At a distinctive meeting in July of 2021, the board equally approved Holtzman’s resignation and then straight away gave him a new 5-yr contract.

Nonetheless, right after months of controversy in excess of the legality of the transfer, at past night’s unique conference, the board voted to permit him go FOR Genuine.

Holtzman has approved a new placement at Beaver Location University District, around 50 miles northwest of McKeesport.

His past day is June 30. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tia Wanzo will serve as Acting Superintendent promptly upon his departure.

The controversy stems from a shift final 12 months by the outgoing board to keep Hotlzman in McKeesport when he had been poised to accept a new superintendents placement at Kiski Spot University District. He resigned and was rehired at MASD in buy to protected him a new deal with a aggressive wage and yrs of services.

But this didn’t sit properly with 3 board members (Steven Kondrosky, James Brown and Mindy Sturgess) who walked out of the meeting before it was officially named to get.

Then in January – a month just after 3 new board members have been sworn in adhering to the election – the board voted 5-4 to look into no matter if Holtzman’s resignation and subsequent rehire were being enforceable.

Lawyer William C. Andrews wrote a letter stating that the measure could be seen as circumventing the intent of the Pennsylvania school code. The law does not make it possible for this kind of contracts to be extended with a lot more than a year remaining right before they expire. Holtzman however experienced two years still left on his agreement.

Holtzman’s possess authorized council, Mark E. Scott, wrote that the move was, in reality, legal and that it was widespread observe at other districts.

At a February board conference where by letters from both attorneys ended up read through into the history, Holtzman available to resign, then and there:

“I will evidently condition if they want me to go on, and I’ve said it to them in non-public, I want a year’s income and added benefits and I will resign tonight. This witch hunt and issue is over, overdone, overstated and we require to move on and the moment I’m compensated for my lawyer charges.”

At the time, it was unclear whether or not the board could go ahead with Holtzman at the head of the district or not.

Seemingly Holtzman couldn’t proceed to get the job done with them.

A mere a few months afterwards, he place in his recent resignation.

Holtzman’s tenure at McKeesport was fraught with controversy from the starting.

He was hired as high school principal with no any principal practical experience whilst his individual father, Mark Holzman, Sr., was on the university board.

Right before this, he experienced been dean of self-discipline at McKeesport’s vocational section for two years prior to getting a comparable function at West Mifflin Location Superior School. Nevertheless, he was mainly identified in MASD for his yrs on the high university soccer team when he experienced been a college student there (he graduated in 1997) and then at Syracuse College.

His spouse and children also experienced a close romantic relationship with a single of the most controversial figures in the Mon-Valley, Pat Risha. The late Risha, who experienced been a superintendent, himself, at McKeesport, West Mifflin and South Allegheny districts, could have opened numerous doors, and was heralded as a “power broker” in his obituary.

Holtzman was originally employed as MASD superintendent at a exclusive assembly on March 29, 2017, at a income of $140,000, according to minutes from that conference.

His time as superintendent was rocky, to say the minimum.

The Covid-19 pandemic provided challenging worries for each and every district, but Holtzman typically created decisions that place pupils and workers at hazard, holding buildings open up throughout occasions of high group unfold and often with mask optional guidelines. The final result was hundreds of folks tests positive for the sickness who may well not have if not.

The district made available a cyber choice for students whose mom and dad wished to retain them safely and securely at household for the duration of the worst of the pandemic. Lots of districts had been in a position to present are living academics from the child’s grade amount to instruct as a result of on-line companies like Zoom. Even so, MASD employed the company Edmentum application to present lecturers. The issue is it was not created for that goal. It was developed for credit history recovery, not strong lecturers. As a consequence, the district cyber plan was developmentally inappropriate, and comprehensive of typos and inaccuracies.

It was no far better for college students who came to faculty in-particular person. Thousands of children had been unable to get to faculty simply because bus routes ended up cancelled daily over the past 12 months.

Holtzman blamed the problem on a contract with bus company, PA Mentor Strains, which didn’t have sufficient motorists and would cancel the routes just several hours prior to the buses have been set to get there.

The district experienced to go to court docket to crack the deal and just entered into a new 6-year deal with Krise Transportation out of Penn Hills starting up future year.

Holtzman’s controversies predate the pandemic.

In 2019, he refused to let 11 significant university students to make a Black College student Union. He claimed his objection was not thanks to the organization’s material  but the participation of one particular of the student’s moms – Fawn Montgomery Walker who was working for McKeesport Mayor at the time and who is lead organizer of Acquire Motion Mon Valley, a community action group.

The district eventually reached a settlement settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and the learners who had filed a federal civil legal rights lawsuit from the district and Holtzman.

The college students were permitted to build the club as prolonged as no “non-college people or entities” are named as advisors or members of the club.

Not every thing Holtzman did in the district was contentious.

He had a talent for acquiring donations from substantial organizations.

Last 12 months, he was instrumental in acquiring Comcast to offered 2,500 cost-free laptops for college students, academics and staff members in the middle and higher faculty. The reward also bundled just one calendar year of absolutely free significant-velocity online accessibility for suitable family members – products and services that can be extended per year. 

The information was broadcast live on NBC’s “Today” present.

Close to the exact same time, Holtzman helped broker a partnership with The DICK’S Sporting Merchandise Basis and MASD for investment decision in college students at Twin Rivers Elementary School. The arrangement is intended to require co-creating a new university design and wrap-around companies for the local community.

Here’s hoping MASD has accomplishment with Dr. Wanzo or whoever eventually usually takes the Superintendent’s situation on a lasting foundation.



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