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Hundreds pack Susquehanna Township school auditorium for school board meeting to voice concerns

Updated: Monday, September 23 2013, 10:47 PM CDT
Reported by: James Tully

HARRISBURG -- Susquehanna Township students and parents were tailgating Monday night, not for any Monday night sports; instead they were sounding off about the problems in the school district.

It was a rally cry for better education, and it's hard to ignore when an auditorium is packed to the brim for a school board meeting.

Parents and even some former teachers say the district is plagued with educational and disciplinary issues.

Last week, assistant principle Shawn Sharkey was charged with having sex with a then 16-year-old student.

There was one more reason it was standing room only at the board meeting. Outside in the parking lot two hours before the meeting began there was cheering, signs, and pizza.

A school board meeting isn't usually something that follows a pep rally but maybe it should be, because Susquehanna Township parents and students proved tonight that more people will show up.

Jessica Taleff was one of the main organizers for the rally and she says it was an effective way to get students to understand they have a voice that deserves to be heard.  "I just think the administration needs to see that as a community we stand together and we won’t tolerate this anymore," Taleff said.

Inside the meeting, voices were heard. A student stood up and explained that he was a junior and also openly homosexual. He claimed that he had been bullied and his cries for help went unanswered by the administration.

Another man demanded answers as to why good teachers stopped teaching at the high school.

Perhaps the comments with the loudest reception from the hundreds in attendance came from another man who pointed his finger at the board members and told them they had failed and it was time for a change.

The board did make a decision in the morning to table a vote on early contract extensions for two assistant superintendents. With elections coming up in November, this matter got the attention of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. He plans to do an extensive audit into the school board later this year.

The board also issued a statement regarding Sharkey saying that counseling has been provided for any students or teachers who feel they need it.Hundreds pack Susquehanna Township school auditorium for school board meeting to voice concerns

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