Despite its absence from the agenda, the controversy surrounding Superintendent Jan Matousek was the hot topic at the Liverpool Central School District Board of Education’s Oct. 10 meeting.
Former Liverpool Superintendent John Cataldo spoke up at the meeting, asking several questions about the investigation into allegations brought by Athletic Director George Mangicaro against the superintendent. Cataldo questioned Mangicaro’s being placed on leave, the reassignment of Bonnie Ladd, Mangicaro’s girlfriend, and the board’s review of the allegations brought.
“Has the superintendent been lying?” Cataldo asked. “The LCSD has been mum on the allegations. It has been reported that no one else has been reassigned. But Maureen Patterson [assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum] has put Bonnie Ladd on special assignment. Mike Reno is an independent consultant that has come in to act as director of technology in her place. The superintendent says that she is not behind George Mangicaro’s removal. She said the board acted on its own. If that is true, then how did Reno show up the next day?”
Cataldo asked about the board’s investigation into Mangicaro’s allegations, which have not been made public. “What type of review did the board do regarding the investigations?” he asked. “Did Dennis O’Hara [attorney for the district] conduct the investigation and review? Did he review the police report and shoplifting charges previously brought against the superintendent?”
Cataldo was cut off by Board Vice President David Savlov, who was running the meeting in the absence of President Mark Lawson. “You’re over your three-minute limit [per person for public comment],” Savlov said.
But Cataldo would not be silence. He stood up again after the items on the agenda were taken care of, which happened in a matter of minutes. He called for Matousek to take a leave of absence and asked for a full review of the district’s books and the superintendent’s conduct. But he didn’t stop there.
“If criminal charges are filed against the superintendent by the district attorney,” he said, “then board members who voted to dismiss Mr. Mangicaro’s allegations should resign.”
The board had no comment on Cataldo’s questions or his accusations.
In other business:
– New board member James Southard was sworn in. Southard was chosen last month by the board to replace Paul Paventi, who retired last summer.
– POOLS awards were given to 12 Soule Road Elementary students: Christina DeGroff, Catherine Rowell, Aubrey Sandberg, Kyle Broughton, Cassandra Dailey, Jamie Kuppel, Bianca Maglioli, Jesse Peplinski, Frank Perez, Kevin Laskowski, Vishal Suresh and Chelsea Bowers.
– Board member Ed Roesch asked several questions about the high school’s laptop program. As the computers arrived later than expected this summer, IBM offered to make the last payment of $25 for all families renting a laptop. Roesch wanted to know how that credit would come back to the school district. Assistant Superintendent Katie Phillips said that the district would be receiving a credit, but did not specify when or how.
Roesch also asked about the free laptop program. Last spring, the board voted to buy $300,000 worth of laptop computers for students who did not lease the computers from the school, allowing all students access to the technology. Roesch wanted to know how the program was working. Matousek said that the usage of the technology was expected to start when students returned from fall break the next day.
– The board heard comments from the public pertaining to the elementary and middle school grade reconfiguration study presented at its Oct. 5 meeting. Liverpool Elementary parent Vince Cook asked the board to consider moving the Oct. 23 meeting, which does have discussion of the study on the agenda, to a larger location so that members of the public could attend.
Kelley Romano, also an LE parent, also spoke to the board on the issue. “It seems as if there is a lot more going on here than what we all read in the newspaper,” Romano said. “You have a credibility issue and you need to resolve your legal and leadership issues before considering a proposal of this magnitude. I would ask you to delay any decision on reconfiguration and/or school closings until these other issues are resolved.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.