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Schools Superintendent Will Not Be Offered New Contract by Board of Education

Schools Superintendent Edward Seto.

The Franklin Township Board of Education voted Sept. 26 to not offer schools Superintendent Edward Seto a contract renewal.

In what was almost an anticlimactic vote, the Board of Education Sept. 26 voted to not offer a new contract to schools Superintendent Edward Seto.

The board voted 5-1 for the resolution to not offer Seto another four-year contract when his contract ends in June, 2014. Board member Richard Seamon cast the only “no” vote.

Board members Thomas Lewis and Robert Trautman were not eligible to vote because their wives work for the school district. Board member Delvin Burton was not present.

The board’s vote was not unexpected; the panel voted 5-2 at the Sept. 19 workshop session to add the resolution to the regular meeting’s agenda.

Seto was philosophical after the vote, saying the decision gave him the chance to retire or consult.

Besides, he said, “No one bothered to ask me if I wanted to be renewed, they assumed that I wanted to be renewed.”

“Maybe all of this could have been avoided,” Seto said. “Now we’ll never know.”

There exists the possibility that a new school board seated in January could rescind the vote and vote to offer Seto a contract.

Seto, who is in his seventh year as superintendent, said that if that were to happen, “I would consider it. I’m open at this point.”

If Seto were offered a new contract, he said, he’d have to take about a $30,000 pay cut from his $206,000 salary as a result of state guidelines regulating school superintendents’ salaries.

The board had until February 1, 2014 to decide whether it wanted to offer Seto a contract. Board president Julia Presley said at the Sept. 19 workshop session that she “took the advice of the board attorney” and decided to deal with the matter now, “and move on.”

Seamon unsuccessfully tried to have the vote tabled, but his motion died for lack of a second.

Seamon said the decision to not offer Seto a new contract was made “behind the scenes and was not inclusive of all the members of the board.”

Seamon also said Presley should not vote on the resolution because of a pending ethics complaint filed against her by Seto.

During his superintendent’s report, Seto put up a vigorous defense of his record.

He listed what he said were the accomplishments of his administration, including having the district recognized as a high-performing district for six years, the purchase of 4,000 laptops and 500 printers for instructional staff, the establishment of the district’s first comprehensive long-range facilities plan and the re-writing of all curricula.

Seto also said that his attorney had written a letter advising that because of the ethics complaint filed against her by Seto, Presley should recuse herself from the matter.

Presley did not respond.

Unlike the Sept. 19 meeting, when the resolution was first discussed, some residents, such as John Felix of Somerset, asked the board to vote “no” on the resolution.

Felix said that although he didn’t always agree with every decision Seto made, “I do think a change in leadership” would be disruptive.

But there were still more residents who spoke against Seto, some charging that he punished family members for speaking out or made arbitrary decisions to the detriment of their children.

Linda Powell of Somerset said that there has been some improvement in the district over the last several years, but that it has “been in spite of, not because of, the central administration.”

“Good administrators have left this district, good teachers have left this district, good parents have left this district because things were done in an underhanded, bullying way,” she said.

But William Connell of Somerset said that “what bothers me most is the idea that if Mr. Seto leaves, our problems will go with him. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

After the board’s decision, Seto stood outside the meeting place – Franklin Middle School – as supporters shook his hand and wished him well.

“It’s all good,” he said as they passed by.

“It is what it is,” Seto said. “This is a process.””I’m not going to fight to keep my job,” he said. “The worst-case scenario is, I retire.”

Seto said he’s also been offered educational consulting jobs.

“I’ve had lots of offers,” he said.”I’m a turnaround guy,” he said. “I turn schools around, I turn districts around. I have a proven track record.”

 

 

 

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