TROY BOROUGH — The Troy School Board voted down a motion to transfer John Imbt, a teacher at the Troy Intermediate School, to the position of Assistant Elementary Principal for grades K-6 in their work session meeting on Tuesday evening. The move could leave the position vacant at the beginning of the school year.
In June, the board voted to hire Benjamin Miller to the Assistant Elementary Principal position after an interview process with numerous candidates including Imbt, but Miller has since taken a different job at Wellsboro, opening the position again.
According to Troy Superintendent Amy Martell, this not an unprecedented move and the school had contingencies in place for situation like this. Namely, section 309 of the school policy that stipulates transfers within the school.
After the position was opened again, the administration team recommended that Imbt was to be transferred to the open position from his current position as a teacher. Martell told the Review that Imbt completed an internship under Mr. Miller while he was being acclimated to his new position before he left the school.
“We saw a lot of really good leadership qualities in the first two months,” Martell said of Imbt’s time under Mr. Miller. “And that he comes from being a teacher with really good qualities speaks to why we recommend him for transfer.”
With the transfer of Imbt to the open vice principal position on the agenda, dozens of supporters of Imbt came to the board meeting, three of whom spoke directly to the board about his character before the vote.
Christine Woodward, a third grade teacher at TIS said that the vice principal position in the elementary school would require thinking like a team leader, being budget builder, and a visionary.
“I am confident that John Imbt is more than capable of filling that vice-principal position,” she said.
Jennifer Judson, a TIS counselor, spoke to the risk of not having complete leadership at the school when the year begins.
“The excitement we see in our students and parents is so refreshing,” she said. “In that regard, not having a vice principal in that position sets a tone for the school year. Kids, parents, they want to see their administrator, they want to see their classrooms, they want to see their teacher, they want to see who’s in charge of the school.”
Nicky Williams, a parent of two Troy students and a long-time friend of Imbt’s spoke of Imbt’s good character and the work he has done in the school and the community.
“He’s so incredibly loyal to his family and his community,” she said as she and others in attendance held back tears.
After a lengthy executive session the board returned and voted down the transfer 4-5. Todd Curren, Dan Martin, Susan May and Deb Harer voted to approve the transfer while Sheryl Angove, Heather Bohner, Bill Brasington, Janet Ordway and Darren Roy voted against.
Angrove explained later in the meeting that she felt that she had to do “what was right” and wanted to keep the same process of hiring that the school has done in the past.
“We needed to continue to do that, in my heart that’s the way I had to vote. It had nothing to do with anything else.”
In the final visitors’ comments section of the meeting, retiring Assistant Principal Mary Abreu voiced her concern over the actions the board did not take in filling the position.
“It is very unfortunate the way things have evolved here,” she said to the board. “I feel bad for the kids, because I really don’t think you understand how important having a secure staff on day one makes a tremendous difference.
You’re not going to understand the full repercussions of that because it is going to be year long. It’s not we just don’t have someone for a week or two weeks, it’s a continuous roller coaster.”
She also said that in years past when a hire didn’t work out the school would move on to the next candidate and not re-advertise the position and go through all of the motions for a second time.
“I’m baffled, I’m not understanding your actions here tonight, but I’m not a board member so there may be things I don’t know.”
Martell said on Wednesday that she hopes the school has the position filled by the first day of school for students and that they remain hopeful that they will find a quality candidate.
“That would be wonderful for the school system, we have to make sure we have the right candidate,” Martell added.
The school will be accepting applications for the position until noon on Monday, Aug. 19 and hope to present a candidate to the board in their next meeting the next day. If not, the board could hold a special meeting to hire the candidate before school begins.
The students’ first day of school is Aug. 22.