By Jennifer Marangos and Susan Koomar
Gun proponents are forcing former Brick Superintendent Thomas L. Seidenberger out of his Pennsylvania administrative job, upset that the championship rifle team was omitted from the Emmaus High School's 2012-13 yearbook.
One critic called Seidenberger, the East Penn School superintendent, a "worm" because of the omission and said rifle team members will become sharpshooters who will save his "fat ass."
Seidenberger left Brick on July 3, 2007 to become the superintendent in the East Penn School District, a job that was 15 minutes from his Pennsylvania home.
Seidenberger, who was hired by the Brick Township Board of Education in November 2002, had lived apart from his wife and two sons during the week and commuted home on the weekends for more than four years, according to The Brick Township Bulletin.
Now he finds himself leaving the post after parent and school board candidate Chris Donatelli complained about the omission at the Sept. 9 school board meeting. Donatelli's son, Stephen, was a member of the rifle team.
Donatelli's complaint was not immediately addressed because the district's policy is not to have school officials respond directly to community members during the public comment portion of meetings.Picture Was Misplaced
The yearbook omission was accidental, not intentional, Siedenberger said Monday. He said, "People, especially in the athletic department, are concerned that the picture was misplaced."
A special yearbook insert is being created to honor the rifle team.
But the yearbook omission resulted in a barrage of attention including a story on the website Guns.com that received more than 7,000 Facebook likes and more than 100 comments.
“I know I am supposed to say things that are politically correct,” Seidenberger said, “but for someone to even remotely suggest that when the picture of the team was omitted that it was a gun control issue…I am deeply saddened and see no reason that anyone should have hinted at that.”
Seidenberger, 65, has been an educator for 43 years. The school board last year renewed his contract for five years.
His surprise retirement announcement came as he wrapped up his superintendent's report to the board Monday. Seidenberger was visibly emotional as he spoke about making the decision to retire after "soul searching."
Two school board members then circled back to the rifle team uproar.
Board President Charles Ballard said that “just for the record he wanted to put something out on the rifle team situation” and then went on to list the many ways the rifle team had been honored “besides the mistake in the yearbook in which a CD of pictures got misplaced.”
Board Vice President Alan Earnshaw, who is seeking reelection, said “it’s a shame that when Mr. Donatelli raised the issue, he did not simply stick to the facts."
“We are one of five schools in the Lehigh Valley Conference that even offer rifle team as a competitive sport. We have paid for coaching, transportation, supplies. We contracted with the Borough of Emmaus to provide (the team) with a shooting range. To say that we do not support the rifle team in any sense is absurd," Earnshaw said.
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