HAMBURG, NY - The Hamburg school board suspended its superintendent last month because he lied to police. On Thursday night, the board named a new acting superintendent.
The school board hired Dr. Vincent Coppola Thursday night during a special meeting to run the district while Superintendent Dr. Richard Jetter is on paid administrative leave.
Dr. Coppola has lived in Hamburg since 1959, has 56 years of experience as an educator, and he is also the consultant who lead the superintendent search that ultimately ended with the hiring of Dr. Jetter. Jetter remains on paid leave after lying to police about damage done to his car.
The board wanted a long-term acting superintendent in place before the start of the school year and chose Coppola because of his experience. He is a retired superintendent. The board also likes his familiarity with the inner-workings of the district.
Coppola will be on board through January 31, 2015. He will be paid no more than $69,000 with no pay for sick days, personal days or holidays.
Coppola will be the acting superintendent as he searches for another permanent superintendent.
"Although there's been some bumps in the road, there's been some distractions, the parents love the school district. They just want to see some of the external things that have been going on to go away, and my job is to make them go away," says Dr. Coppola.
"You are the search consultant, and now you're the acting superintendent. How will you balance those two roles?" asked Kelly Dudzik.
"Gee, that's a really good question, but you know, I've done it on three previous occasions. Twice when I was the interim in Frontier. Once when I was the interim in Grand Island. It's not that difficult to do. First of all, people know that Hamburg is turning the corner," replied Coppola.
"He knows the challenges that he's up against as being part of the search process at the beginning. He's worked with us before, so I think he's well prepared and he's gonna be able to, I think, you know, bridge the gap between this year and the next superintendent," said School Board Vice President Thomas Flynn.
Right now, the district is working with Jetter's attorney to come to some sort of agreement for him to step down. Jetter's contract contains a clause which allows the board to remove him with cause. That move would include a hearing.
Jetter signed a five year contract and has served less than a year, so far. Coppola is not interested in the permanent job himself. He says he does not want to stay one day longer than he has to.