Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Front Page

Vantine ousted as interim school head

Matthew Bystrak named new interim superintendent
by JENNIFER WATERS
Editor

Matthew Bystrak, director of pupil personnel services for the West Seneca Central School District, was named the new interim superintendent on Monday night.

(See editorial on page four)

The new School Board majority, including the officers appointed during Monday’s annual organizational meeting, swiftly terminated the employment of interim Superintendent Whitney Vantine who had taken the position in May.

Although there was some fumbling at the beginning, President Carol Jarczyk and Vice President Janice Dalbo made quick use of their new titles, leveraging their new majority with members Mary Busse and Diane Beres, against abstaining votes from the remaining three board members, who had been part of the prior majority.

Jarczyk has held the position of president four times previously.

Dalbo motioned for the actions to terminate Vantine and appoint Bystrak, items not on the agenda distributed in the meeting, noting that the reason for termination was contractual, but no definitive cause was given.

“I make a motion to terminate Dr. Whitney Vantine’s employment with the West Seneca School District, effective immediately, according to the contractual agreements, in Section 2 of his employment agreement,” she said.

“[Vantine] had a contract with us, and there were different provisions in the contract. We just were exercising one of the provisions,” Dalbo said after the meeting, adding that she had no further comment on the contract or its specifics.

Vantine took the interim post in West Seneca after retiring from his position as superintendent of schools in the Tonawanda City district.

Bystrak said he is prepared to step into the process of looking for a permanent replacement.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down with the leadership and the administrators to prioritize everything and see what is an immediate need and get that taken care of,” he said.

The board said it will continue the process of working to hire a permanent superintendent with input from the district and community.

Franco DiPasqua, executive officer of the West Seneca School Administrators Association, said he is looking forward to Jarczyk’s leadership in the superintendent search.

“As many of us in this room may recall, it was under your leadership several years ago, along with Mrs. Dalbo and Mrs. Busse, that you brought us Dr. Mark Crawford — one of the best superintendents to ever grace our schools,” DiPasqua said. “What’s even more amazing is that you did not have to spend $20,000 on a search consultant to do so. An incredible waste of money.”

According to DiPasqua, the organization filed a Freedom of Information Law request to learn that this money could have been transferred to a building budget line for materials for students rather than for a consultant.

“Please know that WSSAA is always here for anyone in our community who wants to do the right thing for our students,” he said.

During this year’s School Board election, DiPasqua said both the administrators union and the West Seneca Teachers Association collaborated to back certain candidates, hoping to clean up some “messes.”

“WSSAA is proud to have joined the brothers and sisters of WSTA and supported the board members that we made calls for in the spring, and we would do it all over again,” he said.

Disagreements surrounding Universal Pre-K programming and contract violations are among the problems DiPasqua said the district has endured.

“Never have we seen such divisiveness used in the name of children to propel people’s personal aspirations or those of their friends,” he said, adding that administrators and other bargaining units within the district have never been more united than they are now.

“It was the manufactured problems, such as claims of nepotism, that brought us together to defend ourselves from all the deceit that was being spun,” DiPasqua said. “WSTA filed numerous complaints with the interim superintendent and were told nothing could be done. Then, mysteriously, everything ended after the board election was over.”

DiPasqua said his organization is looking forward to a bright, new school year.

“A school year which does what’s right for the district, and all whom it serves, which includes but is not limited to, students, parents, community members and its employees,” DiPasqua said.

email: jwaters@beenews.com

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