DuBois Area School District Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton has been assigned day-to-day activities in light of Superintendent Luke Lansberry’s absence, Solicitor Carl Beard confirmed Thursday.
Benton also told the Courier Express that she is the “substitute superintendent” and that Lansberry is on “leave.”
Asked about Lansberry’s status, Beard said, “He’s on paid leave and until we hear something to the contrary we don’t know anything differently.”
In the meantime, Beard said the district’s needs, such as signing documents, have to be handled.
“She (Benton) is assuming day-to-day responsibilities while the superintendent is out on paid leave,” said Beard. “This isn’t really out of the norm. This isn’t an unusual event. The very nature of her duties as assistant superintendent means she has to step up. It’s no different than when a teacher is out.”
Beard had no comment when asked if Lansberry’s leave was unexpected.
“That’s Dr. Lansberry’s choice to utilize his leave under his contract,” Beard said.
Beard anticipates that more information concerning the situation may be forthcoming next week.
On Friday, sources close to the district told the Courier Express that Lansberry’s bent oak office furniture, which he purchased himself, was moved out of the superintendent’s office. A U-haul was reportedly seen outside the district office on Liberty Boulevard the weekend before Christmas and the superintendent’s office is empty, according to sources.
Several sources with close ties to the district said they believed Lansberry will not return.
“I can tell you that he is on paid leave at this point in time,” Beard said in an article in the Tri-County Sunday. “He didn’t quit. He wasn’t fired. Everybody has rights from a janitor to a superintendent. But I can’t comment on a personnel issue beyond that.”
There has been no public discussion by the board or administration that any changes were pending with the position of superintendent.
At the board’s Dec. 20 meeting, directors unanimously approved hiring special counsel, the law firm of Weiss Burkardt Kramer LLC, of Pittsburgh, at the hourly rate of $175 per hour.
The proposal was added as a late agenda item.
When asked by an audience member the purpose of the special counsel, board President Larry Salone said it is a personnel matter and that he could not discuss it further.
Beard said the special counsel was hired “simply to look at personnel issues. Other than that, I can’t comment on anything that might be the subject of somebody looking into a personnel issue.”
Lansberry was hired as the district’s superintendent on Sept. 26, 2016. His contract is through June 30, 2021. During the first year of the agreement, his annual salary was $140,000, prorated as of the start date for the 2016-17 school year through June 30, 2017. On July 1 of each subsequent year of the agreement, he is entitled to an increase of 2 percent under the contract.
Efforts to reach Lansberry for comment, both by phone and email, have been unsuccessful.
Board President Larry Salone has been unavailable for comment.