Fox Chapel superintendent to retire

Tawnya Panizzi
| Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 12:35 p.m.

Fox Chapel Area School District officials will seek a leader with qualities similar to those of the outgoing superintendent, the school board president said Tuesday.

Superintendent Anne Stephens announced her retirement Monday. Details of her retirement package were unavailable, district spokeswoman Bonnie Berzonski said.

Stephens' departure is unrelated to questions some residents raised about her academic credentials, officials said. She holds a doctorate from the defunct LaSalle University, an online school.

Board President Joel Weinstein said he would look for a candidate from an accredited university, as one qualification. Other board members did not return calls.

“You don't have to have a Ph.D. to be superintendent,” Weinstein said.

“I would rather they have it, but if the right candidate comes along without it, we would consider them. It's so hard to get people of quality; you have to choose the right person.”

He said Stephens fit that bill. “She put a lot into the district and did a great job. I would like to get a clone of her.”

Stephens, in her eighth year with Fox Chapel, will stay through Dec. 31, giving the board time to search for a replacement.

Her contract ends June 30, 2014.

Weinstein said the board will ask the Pennsylvania School Boards Association for help with the search.

The state does not require superintendents to hold a doctorate but a district policy mandates it. Stephens said the district doesn't stipulate the degree must be from an accredited school.

“It is important that we keep the focus where it needs to be — on the students and the work that must be done,” she said.

Stephens' career spans 43 years, 19 as a superintendent. Under her leadership, the district offered its first virtual courses and increased its emphasis on technology, science and mathematics.

In recent months some residents questioned whether her degree from the Louisiana university was adequate to justify her $190,000 salary.

State regulators shut down the university in 2001 after questioning whether it was a “diploma mill.”

“I think it was .... not a good example for the children,” said O'Hara resident Laura McClaran, mother of two students in the district.

Stephens was named the University of Pittsburgh Tri-State Area School Study Council School of Education 2010 Distinguished Educator and received the state Music Educators Association 2013 Outstanding Superintendent Award.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 1512 or at

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