Questions arise about superintendent’s resignation

by Sheldon Ocker

Feb. 20 school board meeting

The community was bound to question why Michael Tefs would tender his resignation 2 ½ years into his first contract as Revere Schools superintendent.

With little or no apparent dissatisfaction among district parents or the board of education and no word from Tefs about the offer of a better job (his contract runs through July 31), Bath parents Chris and Johanna Bibro asked the board what is going on.

“We are here on behalf of ourselves and other Revere parents to express concern regarding the circumstances surrounding Dr. Tefs’ resignation and to request increased transparency for the community in the hiring process for the new superintendent,” said Chris Bibro, who also addressed the issue of whether Revere needs a new superintendent.

“Many community members are troubled by the appearance that we are losing a good superintendent for reasons that could and should have been avoided,” Bibro said.

The board, with the assistance of the Summit Educational Service Center, put together nine focus groups to learn what the community wants in a new school leader. Johanna Bibro participated in one focus group.

“She was struck by the generic qualifications outlined for the position as well as the lack of specific criteria for selecting a new superintendent,” Bibro said. “In addition, the rushed nature of the proceeding raises questions.”

Bibro said the posted qualifications for superintendent “seem to focus on interpersonal skills, which leads us to wonder what concrete criteria are being used to evaluate the candidates: legal and educational knowledge? experience with policy? fiscal responsibility?

“The lack of clarity around the process coupled with what appears to be haste on the part of the new school board [two of the five members were elected for the first time last November] to have the Summit Educational Service Center to compile feedback so quickly only heightens the concern in the community about Tefs’ resignation and what caused it.”

School board President Keith Malick pushed back on one of Bibro’s assertions.

“Our goal is to find the best superintendent to lead Revere,” he said. “Nothing is being rushed. Nothing is being taken for granted.”

Another Bath resident, Travis Singer, also addressed the superintendent issue.

“Parents feel like they want to have a little bit more information as to what is going on and even have the opportunity to voice what they would like to see as qualities,” he said.

Mental health issues

Jennifer Burke made a moving appeal to create a small number of classes to help students deal with their own and others’ mental and emotional distress. Burke has a child at Revere schools who struggles with these issues.

“I refuse to feel shame about this any longer,” she said. “There’ still a strong stigma with those who struggle with mental health. I admit to feeling a tremendous amount of shame the first time we needed police and paramedic assistance for my child. It’s hard to put into words the loneliness and the strong desire to hide from the world.”

Burke concedes that the schools cannot solve the mental health problems of their students.

“All I ask is for six classes out of 176 days of education to teach kids about self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making,” she said.  

Burke spoke as a private citizen, but she also is Revere’s representative to the board of Cuyahoga Valley Career Center.

Tech update

Revere Director of Technology John Schinker gave the board an update on the district’s five-year technology plan, which began with the 2021-22 school year.

There have been some changes to policy. Initially, every student from K-12 was expected to use a laptop. Now, Schinker said, kindergarten students will wait until first grade before they begin using technology.

In addition, no longer will all students bring their computers home after school. In grades 1-4, laptops will remain in school buildings, whereas students in grades 5-12 will take them home.

Schinker told the board that 1,500 laptops were replaced last school year and an additional 1,000 were replaced this school year.

Cyber security has been a priority, but Schinker said much of that work purposely has remained out of public view.

In other action

  • The board approved the demolition of a house at 3395 Everett Rd. on property the district purchased for future use.
  • The board ratified a memorandum of understanding with the University of Akron, which will participate in Revere’s College Credit-Plus program.
  • The Revere Foundation gave $12,000 for a threat extinguisher and entry control system. Margaret Altieri contributed $200 to the Patrick Altieri Living Scholarship.
  • The board approved the curriculum for a new course, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, available to students in grades 10-12 as a one-semester option.
  • Revere High juniors can take the ACT test for free on March 12. Those who take the test will be excused from their morning classes. ∞