Schenectady charter school ousts director

Two officials at the International Charter School of Schenectady were fired this week, including the
Sam Penceal was fired Friday as director of the International Charter School of Schenectady.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Sam Penceal was fired Friday as director of the International Charter School of Schenectady.

Two officials at the International Charter School of Schenectady were fired this week, including the school’s director, who had only been on the job for six months.

Saleem Cheeks, account supervisor for Eric Mower and Associates, a public relations firm representing the school, said school director Sam Penceal was released from his contract today because the board decided he had failed to live up to expectations.

Cheeks said in a statement that Assistant Director Shirley Reed has been appointed acting director, effective immediately.

“We owe it to our students and their parents to ensure that we maintain the highest standards for academic excellence,” said board President Tracy Petersen. “Shirley Reed’s experience as assistant director of ICSS makes her the perfect candidate to provide continuity in leadership and move the school in a direction that lives up to the expectations of our parents, students, staff and community.”

On Wednesday, the school’s head of information technology was fired, and Rotterdam police were called by the school as a precaution. There was no untoward incident at that time, Cheeks and Rotterdam police said. The IT director’s name was not immediately released.

Cheeks said he could not go into specific details on why the employees were fired.

Penceal came to the charter school in July after running eight charter schools in the Cleveland area for Mosaica Education Inc., with Reed working as director of one of those schools before joining him at ICSS. During Penceal’s brief tenure, the school saw a sharp decline in enrollment — from 720 students last year to 585 currently — as well as logistical problems such as the failure to line up bus transportation for as many as half the school’s students in time for the first day of classes in September.

The school is still awaiting word from the SUNY Board of Trustees on its application to have its charter renewed for another two years. The Charter Schools Institute denied permission last year for the K-8 school to expand to include ninth grade and SUNY trustees denied a three-year renewal of the school’s charter after the school’s board fired SABIS Educational Systems Inc., the company that helped open the school in September 2002 and ran the school until March 2007.

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