Plum superintendent offered paid leave
Plum school board on Tuesday night “offered” to put Superintendent Timothy Glasspool on paid leave as it investigates the findings of a grand jury report.
Solicitor Lee Price said Glasspool told the board he would take it under consideration.
“Dr. Glasspool was offered an alternative for him to consider for 24 hours to 48 hours regarding taking any administrative leave pending the rest of the investigation,” Price said. “He said he would get back to us.”
Board President Kevin Dowdell said, regarding the leave, that it comes down to voluntary versus involuntary. Glasspool can voluntarily take leave or the board can place him on leave, he said.
Regardless, Glasspool will end up on paid administrative leave within 48 hours of the meeting, he said.
About 200 parents and community members repeatedly called for Glasspool’s ouster during two hours of public comment.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you people, and I don’t know why you won’t take responsibility for your actions,” said Larry Chmielewski, who has two daughters in the district. “With all due respect, Dr. Glasspool, it’s time for you to go.”
It was the first face-to-face meeting of board members and the public since a blistering grand jury report last week blamed Glasspool and top high school administrators for standing idle while teacher Joseph Ruggieri spent years abusing female students.
Glasspool said early in the meeting that he would not comment on the grand jury report, but he did directly answer one parent’s question on whether he would step down.
“Answer this one question for these people in the audience, and I’d appreciate if you could: Do you intend to continue on here and fight for your job in this school district, with what you’ve heard tonight?” asked Vince Lagrothena.
“I will continue to devote my time to the school district,” Glasspool answered.
The board on Sunday night announced high school Principal Ryan Kociela had been placed on paid leave. Two members — Steve Schlauch and Vicky Roessler — urged that Glasspool be put on leave as well, and chastised the rest of the board for failing to do so.
Senior class president Sylvia Ankrom accused the board of making Kociela a scapegoat, noting that when her mother died, Kociela was the only administrator to reach out to her.
“I don’t even want you there,” she said to Glasspool. “You don’t deserve to be at my graduation. As a speaker for my graduating class — we don’t want you there. Don’t show up.”
Audience members throughout the course of public comment shouted from their seats, urging the board to take action on Glasspool before the meeting ended.
About 9:30 p.m., board members went into an impromptu executive session after an audience chant of “Vote!” broke out.
“What did you personally have to gain, Dr. Glasspool, by not reporting these things?” asked William Fenk. “What is the worth of a child?”
The report, released Thursday, was a culmination of more than a year of investigation by a grand jury convened shortly after the first charges were filed against Ruggieri, 41, and teacher Jason Cooper, 39, in February 2015.
“This isn’t right, what’s been going on,” said Anthony Massarelli. “This is terrible. I can’t believe it. I’ve been patient. I’m done. I’m not waiting. Step down, Glasspool — get the hell out of here.”
Rahmon Hart said he has a daughter in the high school and said that while the administrators might not have been the ones preying on the victims, they had the power to do the right thing — and didn’t.
“There was an inner circle that not only turned a blind eye but knowingly put the safety of many girls, including my daughter, in harm’s way,” he said.
The report painted a portrait of an administration that had the backs of close friends within the district far more than those of the students, even when administrators were confronted time and again with mounting evidence of abuse — particularly by Ruggieri.
While members of the grand jury could not find enough evidence to recommend criminal charges, they wrote that Glasspool, Kociela and now-retired School Resource Officer Mark Kost “turned a blind eye,” leaving students vulnerable to abuse.
Megan Guza and Madasyn Czebiniak are Tribune-Review staff writers.
is a former freelancer.