The Bridgehampton School’s new business administrator, who was hired just five months ago, attempted to resign last week.
Members of the Bridgehampton School Board voted unanimously to refuse to accept Philip E. Kenter’s resignation from the position at a meeting on November 24 and District Superintendent Dianne Youngblood said Monday that Mr. Kenter had told her that he still does not know whether he will withdraw his resignation.
Mr. Kenter did not respond to an e-mail request for comment on his decision, and calls to the business office at the school rang without answer on Monday. Mr. Kenter’s name is no longer on the school’s automated phone directory.
Mr. Kenter’s attempted resignation came amid a flurry of special School Board meetings that appeared to be aimed at containing unrest in the school’s business department.
On Monday, December 1, the School Board held a special meeting to hire two part-time account clerks to work in the business office. One of those positions will be permanent and one will be temporary. The School Board also agreed to hire two skilled payroll and budget appropriation status report development professionals to work for six hours apiece, at a cost of $1,500.
Dr. Youngblood said Monday that the new account clerks were hired after the district’s senior account clerk typist and part-time business clerk both resigned in recent weeks. One of those employees has already left the position and the other is expected to leave at the end of this week.
“It’s very difficult and very hard to deal with,” Dr. Youngblood said on Monday.
She added that, while she doesn’t know why the employees quit, “it’s usually an adjustment period when a new business administrator comes on board. There are adjustments as far as people shifting their mind-sets.”
On Monday afternoon, the School Board sent a public notice of an executive session to be held on Tuesday, December 2, to members of the press. Though Dr. Youngblood did not return calls for comment on that meeting, which was called to discuss a “personnel concern,” Mr. Kenter was among the few recipients of the e-mailed notice of that meeting.
Though Mr. Kenter’s appointment to the $92,000-per-year, three-year probationary position in June was initially met with overwhelming enthusiasm from school officials, Dr. Youngblood said this week that she “just can’t comment” on any concerns she may have regarding his job performance.
In the past five months, the School Board has repeatedly, in public meetings, praised Mr. Kenter’s work to reorganize the school’s business department.
“I’m still trying to investigate this myself,” said Dr. Youngblood. “It’s come with such rapid succession.”
Dr. Youngblood did say, however, that the district is in better shape financially than it had been in recent years. She cited a recent positive external auditor’s report as evidence that the school’s fiscal health has improved under Mr. Kenter’s tenure.
“That, for me, is a solid benchmark,” she said. “I would say that our books are in very good shape. That’s another reason I’m puzzled. Everything is really tight.”
School Board President Jim Walker did not return calls for comment this week.
“The board unanimously chose not to accept Mr. Kenter’s letter,” said Dr. Youngblood. “That’s probably as far as their decision will go.”
Dr. Youngblood added that, if Mr. Kenter decides he truly wants to leave, the School Board can do nothing to stop him. “That’s going to be Mr. Kenter’s decision. We can’t keep him here,” she said.