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PRINCIPAL OF LEW-PORT RESIGNS AMID QUESTIONS

The principal of Lewiston-Porter Middle School will leave the district on July 1, although there are conflicting explanations for her departure.

The School Board's conservative majority maintains Jill A. Sherman is leaving for personal reasons. Others claim those board members forced her out of office. Sherman isn't talking.

The issue surfaced earlier this month during a School Board meeting when it accepted Sherman's letter of resignation in which she stated: "It is with deep regret and sadness that I write this letter of resignation. . . . It is for very personal reasons that I take this action."

She then went on to write a long list of her accomplishments at the school.

Board member Jack Burmeister, along with Darlene Valente, the parent of a sixth-grader, contend the board majority, headed by President Edward M. Lilly, forced Sherman out.

Lilly said those claims are "so off base, I'd rather not respond."

Reached late last week, Sherman would not comment.

The allegations were made after Lilly announced Sherman had submitted her resignation. He then read a list of Sherman's achievements, which Lilly said "she certainly is very proud of, as are the people who have worked with her in that building."

As Lilly called the matter to a vote, Burmeister interrupted and asked, "Why don't the four of you (Lilly, Board Vice President David S. Schaubert, Louis M. Palmeri and Lenny Palumbo) explain how you forced her into this?"

Lilly told Burmeister, "You're really doing yourself a disfavor."

The board then voted 4-1 to accept the resignation, with Burmeister objecting.

"They forced her out," Burmeister said later. "They would have voted her tenure down and she knew that. Without tenure, she has to leave and has to look for another job." He said he believes the board majority wants Sherman out because they have someone particular in mind for the post.

As for his opinion of Sherman, Burmeister said, "She's fantastic. . . . It's unbelieveable what she's done in that middle school" after coming here from Jamestown three years ago.

Valente said, "(Sherman) is leaving because the board majority is not going to accept the recommendation from our superintendent to grant her tenure."

Lilly said Valente was wrong.

Valente called Sherman "a wonderful principal to work with." She said Sherman has brought parental support into the building for the first time in years and, because she's a good disciplinarian, "has made the school a nicer, safer place for children."

Superintendent Whitney Vantine praised Sherman for her work as principal, and her integrity. "She was up for tenure. . .," he said. "I would probably have recommended her for it."

Karl Kristoff, the district's counsel on employee relations, said, "The truth is she made a voluntary decision with her eyes wide open. She sent us a very nice conciliatory letter explaining it and that is the end of it."

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com