New Castle News

March 15, 2014

Meehan remaining, not taking Leechburg post

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Terence Meehan will be staying in New Castle.

In November, Meehan accepted the position of superintendent in the Leechburg Area School District at an annual salary of $125,000. He was one of 14 applicants.

The Leechburg district, with about 825 students, straddles Armstrong and Westmoreland counties.

But for the time being, Meehan, 50, plans to stay put as assistant superintendent in the New Castle school district. In that capacity, he oversees curriculum, instruction, federal programs and transportation. He has worked for the district for about eight years.

In a statement issued Friday, Meehan cited recent turmoil in his personal life as the reason for his decision to remain in New Castle.

As he began to develop a transition plan to leave New Castle and take the reins at the Leechburg district, Meehan noted, he was called to Florida to be with his critically ill mother, Eileen, who died Jan. 26.

Meehan said he had planned to resign his New Castle post in January and take on his new job in February, but he never submitted his resignation, “due to my absence for the emergency situation I was facing in Florida.”

Now, he said, circumstances in his life have changed.

“Relocating for the Leechburg position has become impossible and the commute is far too challenging to be manageable on a daily basis,” he wrote.

“I must maintain my residence in Lawrence County at this time due to family circumstances.

“Giving the matter full consideration and time to truly assess my personal situation, I informed the Leechburg School Board that I would not be able to commit to a start date and declined the position.

“I did not want to cause any further delay in the transition of leadership for Leechburg. The (district) will be acting on the notification officially at their March school board meeting.”

Leechburg’s previous superintendent left in June and Dr. Frank Prazenica has been serving as an interim superintendent since then.

Friday, Prazenica confirmed the school board will meet at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss personnel. He said he could not discuss personnel matters — including Meehan.

On Feb. 24, the Valley News Dispatch in Tarentum quoted Meehan as saying he would begin the new job in four to six weeks.

When he was hired in November, he was “tentatively scheduled to begin serving his five-year contract Jan. 20,” according to the Dispatch.

“This is nothing other than a drastic personal matter that I had to deal with,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “My whole life suddenly changed a little bit and I wanted to resolve any personal matters before I totally committed myself to the new position.”

Meehan’s photograph and his letter to the Leechburg community — written shortly after he was hired — was still on the district’s website Friday.

Meehan is a candidate for a school leadership doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh’s school of education. He is scheduled to complete his degree in the spring.

He noted he looks forward to “continued professional growth and opportunity.

“I hope to continue my genuine passion to enhance educational opportunities for students throughout my career,” he wrote in his statement.

“I will continue to serve as assistant to the superintendent at New Castle area schools and appreciate the outpouring of support that has been displayed to me and my family during this difficult time.”

“My life here just fell apart,” Meehan said earlier this week. “Everything changed.”

He had been looking forward to the challenges of a new post had he taken in Leechburg, he said, and would have maintained a New Castle residence.

Meehan said he would not have made the daily commute — 90 minutes each way — but planned a dual residency to be home in New Castle every weekend.