50 Years Ago: Scranton School Board Suspends Uperintendent

February 25, 2019 GMT

Feb. 25, 1969

Scranton School Board suspends superintendent

Before a crowd of 450 people, the Scranton School Board at its Feb. 24 meeting voted 7-1 to suspend district Superintendent Joseph Pollock.

The relationship between the board and Pollock had started to fall apart at the Founder’s Day dinner of the Scranton Area Council of Parent-Teacher Associations. At the dinner, Pollock publicly charged that the members of the board were interfering with his administration of the school district.

On Feb. 22, school board President Henry Dende called on Pollock to resign. Pollock responded: “I am awaiting legal advice before responding to this or any other statement on the matter.”

Before the meeting, Director Harvey Gelb called upon his fellow directors to “defer action on the removal or request for resignation of Schools Superintendent Joseph L. Pollock.” The other directors didn’t listen. Gelb voted against suspending Pollock.

After the board’s vote, the public weighed in.

More than 50 people addressed the board, and not one spoke in favor of the board’s decision. Mrs. Albert Clark of the Scranton Area Council of Parent-Teacher Associations called on the board to rescind its vote, and she offered her services as mediator in hopes of resolving the quarrel between the board and the superintendent.

When answering questions from the audience, Dende and district solicitor James A. Kelly were booed and jeered. During the course of public comment, Dende had to call the meeting to order 53 times in the three-hour-plus meeting, which adjourned at 11:43 p.m.

After the meeting, Pollock met with the school board behind closed doors to discuss his role with the district during his suspension. While Pollock and the board were meeting, many of those who had been in attendance at the school board session gathered at Westminster Presbyterian Church and formed the Citizens Committee for Better Schools.

BRIAN FULTON, library manager,

oversees The Times-Tribune’s expansive digital and paper archives and is an authority on local history. Contact Brian at bfulton@timesshamrock.com or