WILKES-BARRE – Wilkes-Barre Area School Board gridlocked for months, failing to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Teresa McGuire and tossing the choice to Luzerne County courts.
Though it took some time, eight people sought appointment by the court – including the two men who had divided the board into deadlock votes.
Citing plans to move out of the area, McGuire submitted her resignation in December and the board voted to accept it in January. By state law, the board had first crack at appointing someone to finish her term, which expires this December. But a February vote on two nominees -- former GAR High School Principal Dino Gallela and former board member James Susek. – split 4-4.
A March vote on the same candidates went 4-2 in Susek’s favor with two prior Gallela supporters absent, but Assistant Solicitor Ray Wendolowski said any appointment had to be by majority of sitting members, not merely majority of those present.
After 30 days without a board choice, county court had the legal right to intervene, but Wendolowski noted a citizen had to petition the courts to take on the task, and no one had gathered 10 needed signatures to begin the process. City resident and longtime educator Richard Holodick filed the appropriate paperwork early in April, and applied for the post, as did Susek a dentist, and Gallela.
Monday was the last day to submit applications to the court, and five others had done so:
• Mark Schiowitz, a surgeon at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, who has held multiple leadership roles there.
• Louis Elmy, a Luzerne County corrections officer and corrections counselor, with two children attending district schools.
• Jack Jones, a former board member, who currently runs Jack Jones Family Hairstyling.
• Thomas Unvarsky, a retired Wilkes-Barre city police officer, working in security at King’s College.
• Sam Troy, a yoga instructor and frequent critic of district spending at school board meetings.
Legal objections to any of the applications must be filed by 4 p.m. today at the courthouse. If necessary, a hearing on any objections will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. With or without objections, the court will meet en banc – all judges together – to fill the vacancy.