Principal reprimanded for 'holding' student


By Jay Braman Jr.
Documents released by the Onteora School District have shed light on the case of Phoenicia School Principal Linda Sella, who was suspended in February and then reinstated on August 7.
At the time of reinstatement last week Wednesday, District Superintendent Phyllis McGill offered no information or explanation of the matter, but she did notify media that documents pertaining to Sella’s reinstatement were available under New York State’s Freedom of Information Law.

The settlement states that McGill filed disciplinary charges with the New York State Department of Education against Sella, who had been principal at Phoenicia for 12 years. Following a hearing at Sella’s request, McGill withdrew those charges leading to a settlement in the case.
The settlement papers state that Sella admitted to engaging in a “protective hold” without having the certification to do so. She also admits that she failed to properly report “the use of physical force and the discipline of students to the superintendent.”

Sella also admitted to inaccurately reporting matters pertaining to a “student in crisis.”
Accompanying the stipulation of settlement was a formal reprimand from McGill.

The reprimand states that Sella has been accused of not providing Phoenicia School with a respectful work environment. Sella has been accused of such behavior as reassigning staff members without proper authority, monitoring and observing teachers in a clandestine manner, and putting her hand up in a person’s face while they were speaking.

The settlement requires that Sella participate in several training programs, keep a log of all of her communications with parents as well as all communications involving staff performance and meet weekly with the superintendent of schools to discuss all of the above.
Sella is also required to provide a better working environment and refrain from retaliating against any staff.

The settlement also says that if there are any more acts of misconduct on Sella’s part, the district may seek her termination.