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South Middleton Schools

South Middleton school board, Strine agree to terminate his employment agreement

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The South Middleton School Board announced Friday afternoon that Superintendent Dr. Matthew Strine will leave the district as of Aug. 30, a move that follows weeks of controversy over Strine’s plagiarizing part of a commencement speech.

The school board and Strine “have mutually agreed to terminate Dr. Strine’s employment agreement,” the board wrote in a message posted on the school district website, which did not cite a reason for the departure.

“Both Dr. Strine and the school district were looking for what is best at this time for both the district and himself,” school board President Liz Knouse said. “It’s not an acrimonious dissolution of his contract. It was amicable. It was a discussion of what was best for both parties.”

Strine was in the third year of a five-year employment contract, Knouse said, but did not disclose details of any contract buyout or severance, citing a “confidential personnel matter.”

The board said it expects to appoint James Estep, the recently retired former superintendent of the Mifflin County School District in Lewistown, as South Middleton’s interim superintendent during Monday night’s school board meeting until the board finds a permanent replacement.

Attorneys representing South Middleton school board and Strine are discussing his future with district
South Middleton School Board vows 'appropriate action' will be taken regarding superintendent plagiarizing speech

In mid-July, Strine came under fire after parents began sharing a YouTube video that compared Strine’s June 10 graduation message to Boiling Springs High School students to a commencement address given at Harvard University in 2011 by actress and comedian Amy Poehler.

Strine publicly apologized for the “lapse in judgment” that resulted in him lifting portions of Poehler’s address, often with a few words added or removed.

South Middleton’s board wrote Friday that they “are deeply grateful to Dr. Strine for his service to the district and wish he and his family well.”

Strine, a Shippensburg-area native, was hired in 2018 to lead the district under a five-year contract scheduled to run through June 30, 2023, at an initial salary of $146,000 for 2018-19.

Email Zack at zhoopes@cumberlink.com.

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