WILKES-BARRE — Embattled Wilkes-Barre Area School Board Member Ned Evans defiantly dug in against calls for his resignation Thursday, promising a lawsuit against the president of the Save Our Schools organization — which he contends is largely behind attacks on him — and insisting he can still work with the eight board members and a superintendent who all asked him to step down.
“I’ve been my own person on that school board,” Evans said late Thursday afternoon, about 48 hours after Superintendent Brian Costello issued a statement saying he and the eight other board members were asking for Evans to resign. “My votes are for the children of the district and the taxpayers of the district.”
Shortly after Evans said that, Board Member Melissa Patla — who won a seat on the board last year and was an early member of Save Our Schools, formed to fight planned high school consolidation — released a statement promising to call for Evans’ resignation at the next board meeting, set for Aug. 7.
That move is prompted by Evans’ “disrespect towards women and public officials, also his bullying on social media,” Patla said. “I am appalled at his remarks, especially in regards to issues the Wilkes-Barre Area School District has (had) recently.”
Former Coughlin High School teacher, dean of students and wrestling coach Stephen Stahl served six months in prison on a corruption of minors conviction in 2015. He was accused of having sexual relations with a student for 18 months.
Evans continued firing back at critics Thursday on social media.
In one Facebook post, he accused Jack Nolan and John Suchoski, both critics of the consolidation plan, of publicizing the offending comment, saying they and other members of SOS “will do anything to get any of us removed from the board, so they can get one of their members on.”
During the interview late in the afternoon, Evans said he had made a mistake in accusing Nolan, and that he had apologized for the post. But he also said he has already contacted attorneys in anticipation of a lawsuit against SOS President Richard Holodick. Evans contends Holodick made statements online that compared him to convicted pedophile and former Penn State University football defensive coach Jerry Sandusky.
Efforts to reach Holodick were unsuccessful.
Evans also took a shot on Facebook at Wilkes-Barre City Councilwoman Beth Gilbert, who has called for his resignation. Evans wrote that Gilbert had posted the F-word on her Facebook page and that she defended it by saying “I’ll post whatever I want on MY page.”
“I was on a FRIENDS PAGE when I used a sarcastic stupid comment and Bethy ‘I’ll do anything to get elected mayor even stick my nose in school affairs where they dont belong’ comments how upset she is,” Evans wrote.
Gilbert said Evans was referring to something she had posted from the Pinterest website and that she had not personally used the vulgar word. She said Evans had previously supported her political career but seemed to turn against her “a few weeks ago when I posted a comment on the School Board decision to raise taxes.”
“He’s been posting erratic things. It’s kind of out of his character, so it is a little disconcerting,” Gilbert said.
Evans was adamant that he can still work on the school board, touting what he considers his success in helping get metal detectors into schools to fulfill a campaign promise, and his push to bring back the positions of Instruction Support Teachers who help identify at-risk students early and provide support to prevent the need for special education later.
“I feel I can work with them,” he said. “I’m not a politician, I’m a public servant.”
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish