school board, as expected, unanimously approved
hiring James Scanlon to be the fifth superintendent
of the Brandywine School District.
The adopted resolution "authorize[d]
board officers to sign the [employment] contract as
discussed in executive session." Board president Craig
Gilbert said terms of the contract "will be made public once
we have a formal contract." That, he added, will be after
Scanlon resigns as superintendent of the Quakertown
(Pa.) Community School District and signs the document.
During a recess after the
board completed action on Scanlon's appointment, Gilbert
refused to disclose the salary that has been agreed upon
saying, "We will make all that public once the contract is
Gilbert told the meeting that
Scanlon will take the position in late October or early
November. Dane (Andy) Brandenberger has agreed to serve as
interim superintendent until late in October.
Scanlon is to submit his
resignation at a meeting of the Quakertown school board on
Aug. 24. Pennsylvania law requires that he remain in that
job for 60 days after resigning, Gilbert explained.
The Brandywine board voted to
hire Scanlon at its regular meeting on Aug. 21 after all
seven members and two parents who were members of the
delegation which went to Quakerton to 'check out' Scanlon's
credentials and reputation strongly endorsed his candidacy.
No one had anything critical to say.
Gilbert said Hazzard, Young & Attea
Associates, the executive search firm hired to conduct a
brought forward four candidates. "Dr. Scanlon was
head-and-shoulders above the rest," Gilbert said.
State law requires that the
actual hiring be done is open public session. But there has
been no doubt that Scanlon was the board's choice since he
was presented as its only 'finalist candidate' at a special
meeting on July 24. The board, as the law permits, conducted
interviews and discussed the candidates' qualifications in
closed-door executive sessions before then.
In an acceptance speech after
the vote, Scanlon said he is "very eager to help everybody
make a difference for all kids in this school district."
"Public education is under a
lot of pressure today. ... Very demanding requirements are
being placed on our schools," he said.
He promised that "every
decision [he makes] will be made on behalf of students."
Board member Mark Huxoll said
he personally spoke with nine of the 10 persons Scanlon
provided as references. Those conversations were
"overwhelmingly favorable," he reported. "It gets back to
what's good for the kids."
Among those endorsing
Scanlon, Huxoll said, was Vicki Gehrt, who served as
Brandywine's interim superintendent during the
2000-01 academic year. She is now superintendent of the
Kennett Consolidated School District in Pennsylvania.
Reading from a prepared
statement, Kim Matthews, president of the Brandywine
Parent-Teacher Association Council, detailed an extensive
list of Scanlon's accomplishments discussed during the Aug.
1 visit to Quakertown. "We need someone in Brandywine who is
going to motivate and lift the morale of our staff," she
Darcie Herkimer, of the
Brandywine special needs P.T.A., said she was especially
impressed during the visit by Scanlon's reputation for
promoting interaction among teachers and other staff
members. "We don't have that collaboration here," she said.
Herkimer added that she
confirmed Scanlon's commitment to supporting the 'special
Board member Olivia
Johnson-Harris said the 20 delegates who made the trip "kept
hearing he will do what's best for the students."
She said there were no
concerns about Scanlon's ability to apply that commitment in
a considerably more racially and ethnically diverse school
She said responses to
questions about why Scanlon would want to leave a district
where he has been so successful indicated that he is
interested in new challenges, wants to "work with more
diverse students" and likes the Wilmington area. He and his
wife, Beth Trapani, lived following their marriage for
about three years in Brandywine Hundred near Mount Pleasant
Scanlon "possesses all the
character I want to see our teachers possess," Joseph
Gilbert said that, among 69
survey forms returned after get-acquainted sessions open to
the general public, 83% favored hiring Scanlon, 14% opposed
doing so and 3% were undecided. "A clear preponderance of
people said they would support a board decision to hire Dr.
Scanlon," Gilbert said.
He said he would not
apologize for the process by which the board reached its
decision to hire Scanlon. He said Hazzard, Young & Attea
Associates "strongly recommended we conduct a closed
That was especially
necessary, he explained, because former superintendent Bruce
Harter accepted a superintendency in California late in the
academic year after "the type of superintendent we wanted to
attract" was likely to be set in position for the coming
year and being revealed as seeking another job tends to sour
relations. "Friction is easy to come by between the board
and community and a sitting superintendent," he said.
The Brandywine board,
however, was publicly understanding while Harter spent
several months seeking positions before landing the
Gilbert said the favorable
result of the search trumps any criticism of the process.
He said Scanlon comes to the
district as "absolutely committed to our goals as we are."