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Highlands board member faces hearing

| Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

The Highlands School District board has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on removing Mark Peck as a member. And Peck said he plans to be there.

Peck, whose absences from board meetings led the board to schedule the hearing, attended Monday night's agenda session.

The hearing was not discussed by the board Monday.

Under the Pennsylvania School Code, a school board can remove a member for missing two consecutive regular meetings. Peck, according to board records, missed the March and April meetings this year.

Peck was not physically present at the May, June and August meetings as well.

But, during the May meeting he cast a vote via a speakerphone, to hire a secretary. That, according to the courts, counts as being in attendance.

Solicitor Ira Weiss told the board that case law requires Peck be given notice of its intention and afford him a hearing to show why he should not be removed. The board voted to do that Aug. 18.

During that meeting, Superintendent Karol Galcik said she had talked to Peck the previous week and told her that he was moving to Tennessee and intended to resign.

Monday night, Peck of Fawn confirmed that was his intention until last week.

"Let's just say I was pursuing other interests, and unfortunately for me, it didn't work out," Peck said Monday.

He said he is back living the district.

"I have no intention of resigning," Peck said.

Asked if he planned to show up the hearing to defend himself, Peck replied, "Absolutely, if it goes that far, to Wednesday."

Board President Debbie Beale said the hearing would take place.

When asked if he had a lawyer to represent him, Peck replied, "I have no comment on that."

Peck's attendance has been an issue throughout his tenure on the board.

In July 2007, a Valley News Dispatch review of board meeting minutes found that Peck had missed 24 of the 45 regular, special and agenda meetings of the board to that point, an overall absentee rate of 53 percent.

Jon Rupert, district business manager and board secretary, was directed to count Peck's absences and report back to the board.

At the Aug. 18 meeting, he said that Peck had missed 13 regular board meetings since taking office, not including two at which he physically was not present but participated in single votes via a speaker telephone. That's out of a total of 29 regular meetings held during that time, for an absentee rate of about 45 percent.

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