Hippert to bridge gap until new Fox Chapel Area superintendent arrives

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:48 p.m.

When Linda Hippert steps in as acting superintendent of the Fox Chapel Area School District next week, it will be more as an adviser than a leader.

“When a district has me fill in, it's different than a long-term assignment,” said Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU), a group that acts as a liaison between the state Department of Education and the 42 school districts in Allegheny County.

“Any decision that would need to be made, I would be making with (newly hired superintendent) Gene Freeman.”

Freeman is expected to take the reins in March, after leaving his post as head of Manheim Township School District in Lancaster. Current Fox Chapel Area Superintendent Anne Stephens retires Jan. 1.

Hippert is pleased to fill the short-term vacancy. Her daily AIU job has equipped her with a familiarity of the district and a rapport with the administration.

“I think it's a wonderful district and I'm happy to assist,” she said. “Dr. Freeman can't be a superintendent in two places.”

He does, however, keep in daily contact with the administrative team, Hippert said.

It's those people, like Assistant Superintendent David McCommons, who will run the day-to-day operations of the district's six buildings, she said.

“That will continue as is,” she said. “Any decisions outside of those, I would consult Dr. Freeman.”

Hippert earned her master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate from Duquesne University. She started her career as a high school math teacher before serving as a high school principal. She was the superintendent of the South Fayette Township School District for 13 years prior to joining the AIU in 2009.

She also currently works as an adjunct faculty member at Duquesne in the Department of Leadership and Professional Development.

Highlights of Hippert's career include receiving the National Award from the University Council for Educational Administration for Excellence in Leadership, as well as the Century Club Alumni Award from Duquesne.

Her stint at Fox Chapel Area won't be the first time Hippert has stepped in for a public school superintendent. Most recently, she led West Jefferson Hills School District during its search for a new leader.

Her ability to fill the role provides administrators with some relief while waiting for a permanent leader, she said.

“This is an opportunity of my role that I can meet the district needs without them having to look outside to fill the position,” she said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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