Amid protests from the public, the West Mifflin Area school board tonight appointed Assistant Superintendent Janet Sardon as the district's next superintendent.
The vote was taken during a special meeting of the board despite the fact that four of the current school board members were voted out of office in the primary and general elections. The new board will take office on Dec. 8.
At tonight's meeting, some residents of the school district expressed anger that the board wouldn't hold off on the vote.
"The residents of West Mifflin have the right to have the school board they elected appoint the new superintendent," said Donna Lonzo.
The vote to hire Dr. Sardon was 5-2 with board President Ned Mervos, Vice President Albert Graham and school members Kathy Bracco, Diana Olasz and Michael Jakubovic voting in favor.
Opposed were board members John Donis and Richard Fialkovich. Members Edward Schueler and Michael Price were absent. Mr. Price sent a letter to the board that was read by Business Manager Dennis Cmar stating he did not attend the meeting because he believed it was illegal.
Mrs. Olasz said after the meeting that there was no need for the board to do a search for a new superintendent when the district already had a highly qualified candidate in Dr. Sardon.
Dr. Sardon, 38, received a five-year contract with a starting salary of $120,000.
She replaces controversial superintendent Patrick Risha, who announced his retirement last week citing poor health.
Dr. Sardon has been with the West Mifflin Area district for two years. Prior to that, she was an administrator in the McKeesport Area School District and middle and high school principal in the South Allegheny School District, where she started her career as a high school emotional support teacher.
She holds a bachelor's degree in elementary and mentally/physically handicapped education from Indiana University of Pennsylania and master's and doctorate degrees in educational administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
It was the second time in a week that the board majority voted to lock the district into long-term contracts before the new board takes office. Last week the same five awarded long-term contracts to four lower-level administrators. Those contracts include severance payments that total up to $156,650 if the employees are terminated.
Mary Niederberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-851-1512.