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Unexplained leave of Lancaster High School teacher sparks questions

A math teacher at Lancaster Central High School was recently placed on leave and his personal belongings were removed from his desk, according to numerous sources within the school.

The unexplained and abrupt departure last week of John J. Janicki, a tenured employee in the school district, left colleagues and students speculating as to what happened.

A substitute teacher taught Janicki's classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, sources in the school reported. On Friday, Janicki's personal belongings were removed from his desk, sources said.

"My daughter came home and asked us what happened," said one parent of three children in district schools who did not want her name published. "Stuff he had in his room for years was gone. Parents have a right to know what happened and what is being done to address it. We usually find out on the news."

Lancaster School Superintendent Michael J. Vallely initially refused to acknowledge that any action involving a teacher had occurred. In an email, he said: "The District is always transparent whenever we can be on a specific given situation. If we are able to communicate on a matter, we would and will do so when and if we are able."

But later Thursday, a statement from Vallely referencing a matter involving a teacher was posted on the high school website.

"There is much speculation at this point regarding a matter concerning one of our teachers. We have a strong track record of being open and communicating on reported situations after we have completed a thorough investigation and worked with the appropriate authorities. ... At this time, we can confirm that there is no criminal investigation being conducted by the police regarding a teacher in our district."

A teacher at the high school was not happy that the administration had, until Thursday, not released an official statement on Janicki's departure.

"We were not given a head's up on any of this," the teacher said. "They don't say anything; they cite confidentiality."

Gregory Sojka, on the board of directors of the Lancaster/Depew Ponytails League, is a Lancaster resident who sponsors many of the high school's extracurricular activities. Sojka said he was "disgusted" with the lack of information from the district.

"These are our administrators and they're not saying anything. This is a very concerning pattern of non-transparency by the district," he said.

A representative for the Lancaster Classroom Teachers Association did not reply to a request for an interview.


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