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Woodland Hills School Board to fill vacant seat

Jamie Martines
| Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, 10:30 p.m.
The Woodland Hills School District administrative building in June 2017.
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
The Woodland Hills School District administrative building in June 2017.

The Woodland Hills School Board will vote next week to appoint Chardae Seligsohn to the seat vacated by former Board President Tara Reis in July.

Seligsohn of Wilkins Township ran against Reis as a write-in candidate for the district's Region 1 during school board primary elections in May.

She campaigned on increasing school board and administrator accountability and advocating for more staff training in working with special-needs students.

“I'm ready to roll up my sleeves, to listen,” Seligsohn said after Wednesday's agenda meeting, adding that she is eager to promote transparency and community engagement as a board member.

As the mother of two elementary school-age students, she also plans to bring issues impacting the district's youngest students to the board's attention.

Seligsohn is a 2004 graduate of Woodland Hills. She holds a degree in business management and is a former real estate agent.

The school board will vote Aug. 16 on whether to appoint her.

If confirmed, Seligsohn will serve until November. She has petitioned to appear on the ballot in November and will run as an independent in Region 1.

Reis resigned just two months after securing a spot on the November ballot for re-election. She has since withdrawn from the race on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.

In a two-paragraph email sent to Johnson and the rest of the board, Reis did not provide any reasons for resigning. As a “last request,” she asked that the school board approve teacher and support staff contracts.

Reis had served on the board since December 2011.

The vacancy of the school board's top position comes in the wake of high-profile incidents of violence between staff and students and a civil rights probe by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

Kevin Murray, who was hired last spring as head football coach, resigned from the position on Wednesday morning.

He remains on unpaid leave as high school principal as the Pennsylvania Department of Education delays renewing his administrative certification. Whether he will return as principal for the coming school year is unclear.

Murray was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 30 in connection with an incident in which an audio recording surfaced of him allegedly threatening a 14-year-old special education student.

The district said Murray was disciplined, but officials wouldn't say how. He returned to the job in January and did not face criminal charges.

Zappala in a letter to the superintendent called Murray's actions “inappropriate and arguably threatening.”

School district Superintendent Alan Johnson told the Tribune-Review that Murray informed the school board Wednesday of his desire to resign as head football coach.

“But the resignation will be official only after the board reviews and approves a resignation agreement,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, we are appointing a senior assistant head coach to lead the team until the board has considered and approved a resignation formally.”

The school board did not discuss Murray's resignation as coach at Wednesday's meeting.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-850-2867, jmartines@tribweb.com or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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