LAPORTE | Superintendent Glade Montgomery came with a reputation as a people person — something the LaPorte School Corp. viewed as a necessity after the fallout of a still-ongoing sex scandal.
But after just two years, Montgomery has announced his departure, a move that was met with surprise and disappointment.
"It's been a short tenure but it's been very sweet," said LaPorte School Board president Mark Kosior.
Montgomery was hired in July of 2011 from Lafayette schools where he had been for 30 years, first as a teacher then as an associate superintendent before taking over the helm in LaPorte.
According to school officials, Montgomery is accepting a high ranking position with Project Lead the Way, which helps schools nationwide with curriculum development in high demand areas like science, engineering and math.
"It was such a great opportunity that was given to him and he couldn't pass it up," said board member Mitch Feikes.
Kosior said one of Montgomery's biggest accomplishments was his leadership in keeping the school corporation in the black financially during a period of unstable revenues from several years of countywide property tax assessments going uncompleted.
Feikes said it was Montgomery's friendly, caring personality and a hands-off style of letting people do their jobs that struck a cord with him the most.
"The way he treated people, the way he respected people — I think people really felt valued," Feikes said.
Montgomery inherited a troubling time for the school corporation stemming from an alleged cover-up involving a sexual relationship between a junior varsity volleyball coach and female player.
Former coach Bob Ashcraft was given a 21-year prison sentence in 2011, the same year former superintendent Judith DeMuth and one of her administrators stepped down.
Misdemeanor charges against high school athletic director Ed Gilliland and former girls varsity volleyball coach Mary Beth Lebo, who are accused of not reporting their suspicions to the proper authorities, are still pending in court.
Feikes said Montgomery did the best he could trying to improve public perception of the school corporation and resolve turmoil from within the school corporation over the matter.
Some degree of hard feelings and distrust still linger.
"I think we're going to deal with that for a long time. It was a very difficult situation to handle. He did the best that he could as an outsider coming in and we needed that," said Feikes.
Kosior said the board will meet July 16 to decide things like whether to appoint an interim superintendent and how to go about finding a permanent replacement.
"We're absolutely going to explore the options and what the best thing is for us to do," said Kosior.