COAL TOWNSHIP — A longtime member of Shamokin Area School Board spoke out Tuesday night against recent indirect threats made against district schools, fights and other negative behavior.
School Director Robert Getchey said efforts are being made to make the district’s schools as safe as possible but incidents such as threats and fights must stop.
The district has experienced threats written on bathroom walls or made on social media toward the schools three times in the past few weeks. In addition, multiple fights in the high school and a threat by a young student on a district van to shoot another student have been reported recently.
The indirect threats have forced lockdowns to be conducted at the middle/high and elementary schools.
A 12-year-old Coal Township boy who is a student at the elementary school was charged by Coal Township police with terroristic threats and disorderly conduct for making the most recent threat April 10.
Getchey said there are “bad hombres” being brought into the area and that the district is heading in the “wrong direction” because teachers don’t have any rights when it comes to disciplining students for their actions.
He said he believes it’s OK for teachers to use a paddle on students to teach them a lesson when they misbehave.
Getchey said there are many “good people” who live in the district but the schools are experiencing problems usually associated with larger city schools.
He recommended contacting state legislators in an effort to change the laws to give teachers and administrators more resources and authority in combating discipline problems.
After Getchey finished his comments, Director Erik Anderson pointed out that the district can be proud of the majority of its students who excel in the classroom, arts, band, musical productions, sports and other extracurricular activities.
Under citizens’ comments, high school cheerleading coach Tammy Rhodes chastised board member Charles Shuey for his recent letter-to-the-editor in The News-Item that criticized longtime Shamokin Area football and track coach and Northumberland County Commissioner Sam Schiccatano.
Rhodes told Shuey it was very disrespectful of him to make derogatory comments about Schiccatano, whom she described as being very “dedicated” to the student-athletes he coaches.
“I think it’s wrong for a school board member to write a letter-to-the-editor about a district coach,” Rhodes said.
Shuey told Rhodes he wrote the letter as a citizen rather than a school board member and that he is entitled to his opinion.
Schiccatano, who has coached various sports in the district since 1976, also criticized Shuey for the letter.
“I am tired of people running me down in the newspaper,” he said. “I will resign tonight as a football and track coach if that’s what the board wants me to do. I am dedicated to the kids I coach. I don’t coach for the salary.”
Getchey complained that Shuey was trying to mix politics into Schiccatano’s coaching positions and pointed out that politics has always been a problem in keeping good coaches in the district.
In other news, senior class officer Quinn Rollman, a baseball player and swimmer, said only one boys bathroom is available on the first floor of the middle/high school, due to recent threats and lockdowns.
Rollman said having only one bathroom causes him and other students to miss valuable class time.
Transition administrator James Zack, who is fulfilling the duties of Superintendent Chris Venna while he’s on a leave of absence, told Rollman administrators are working on a solution that will involve opening more bathrooms this week.