The soon-to-be-sentenced Frank Michaels showed another lapse in good judgment recently when the Forty Fort councilman declined to immediately quit his post, despite having entered a guilty plea to a felony.
Michaels, 68, would do a service to his council colleagues and constituents by reconsidering and submitting a resignation. The sooner the better.
Observers are right to question his decision making, considering how the former Wilkes-Barre high school principal mishandled – then denied knowledge of – an episode involving a sexual relationship between a faculty member and a female student.
Here’s a synopsis of the situation: Michaels, who once served as Coughlin High School’s top administrator, was charged in 2015 after prosecutors said he falsely denied having been told about inappropriate contact more than 10 years ago between former teacher Stephen Stahl and the 16-year-old student.
Stahl was convicted last year of corruption of minors and has served a prison sentence.
Prosecutors subsequently alleged that Michaels had committed perjury when he claimed to be in the dark about the teacher’s misdeeds.
Another ex-Coughlin teacher told investigators in April 2015 that she had taken concerns about Stahl’s conduct to the principal, who supposedly told her that he would “take care of it.” Other witnesses said principal Michaels later confronted Stahl, asking him, “Is that piece of __ worth your paycheck?”
If true, Michaels’ response to the accusation of teacher misconduct seemingly reflected a circle-the-wagons mentality rather than a genuine concern for a child’s physical and emotional safety.
Today it’s unclear why the retired principal aims to maintain a grip on the borough council seat prior to his Nov. 17 sentencing date.
Of course, he might change his mind; it’s evidently happened before in regard to this matter. Through an attorney, Michaels once proclaimed his innocence and indicated he would contest the criminal charges. Instead, on Sept. 26, he pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of children.
Michaels’ days in public office should have ended then, if not well before.