PUNXSUTAWNEY — During a discussion regarding proposals the Punxsutawney Area School Board has received for legal services, current attorney David Young resigned from his position on the board on Thursday.
Young cited talk among board members about his role as the reason for his immediate resignation. This follows much discussion within the Board regarding a possible vote on the proposals received for legal services.
“I don’t want this divided council to be further divided because of me. I submit my resignation immediately. It will remove the controversy,” Young said. “I have no regrets, I’ve been here for 46 years, it’s fine. I just don’t want controversy, and no attorney wants to represent a client when the client isn’t interested in having that attorney.
The board received three proposals following its pre-resignation request for proposals – one from Young, one from Knox Law in Pittsburgh and Erie and one from attorneys Maiello Brungo and Maiello (MBM).
During the discussion of the proposals, the council’s favorite appeared to be Knox Law for his previous work with the district. Others were in favor of continuing with Young because of his attendance at meetings and the council’s constant reference to him.
“I like a physical presence for a lawyer. Our lawyer speaks at almost all public and private meetings. I think for a $15 million organization, we need to have a physical presence here,” said board member Matt Kengersky.
He also said he would rather see taxpayer dollars stay in the community, and because Young already has decades of experience with the community. That sentiment was echoed by board chair Cindy Depp-Hutchinson, who said she believed there was some learned knowledge from someone who is local.
The discussion began several months ago when board member Deneen Evans first asked if the board needed Young to attend every meeting. She questioned this because of the cost to the district.
Evans has repeatedly stated that the board is not required to have a lawyer present at meetings. Other members said that they understood, but that they preferred only one to be present.
Council member David Wachob said he was not in favor of having a lawyer present at every council meeting. He suggested that a lawyer attend executive sessions via Zoom. Kengersky had provided the board with a table comparing the three proposals and showing the costs. A discussion took place between Kengersky and Wachob about the cost differences shown and any services that would be cut or used.
Later Superintendent Thomas Lesniewski was asked if the administration had a recommendation, saying he had only worked with Young and had “a good relationship with him”. He only worked with Knox Law on the teachers’ negotiation, and “he was fine.”
“I would be very happy to continue our relationship with Attorney Young … but this is strictly a board decision,” Lesniewski said.
Depp asked if the board wanted to vote on the item, as at the committee meeting it was just a talking point and not up for a vote. The board said it was ready to vote this week, at which point Young took the floor to announce his resignation.
Young said Knox Law would take over in a heartbeat, and that he’s worked with them in the past and they “are good people.”
“It’s not fair for you to hold me back at best with a split vote and end up reconsidering, so I’m going to take that off the table,” Young said. “It’s just not fair for you to make it a permanent point of distraction.”
The board will vote for a new attorney from the two remaining proposals at Tuesday’s voting meeting.