Medford schools chief, under fire for drunken-driving charges, goes on leave

Posted: March 14, 2012

Medford Township Schools Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi, under fire for his arrest on drunken-driving charges in Evesham Feb. 26, left Tuesday on administrative leave.

Del Rossi was cited by Evesham Police with driving under the influence after he flipped a district-owned Jeep Liberty he was driving. He said he had swerved to avoid a deer.

In a statement the school district e-mailed to news media Tuesday, Del Rossi apologized and said: "Because of the disruption the current circumstance has caused, I feel that it would be in the best interest of our entire school community for me to take some time away from my responsibilities."

Del Rossi has been criticized by community leaders and in letters to the editor published in the Central Record newspaper for setting a poor example for students. Some have called on him to resign, while others have said he should at least take a leave of absence.

Del Rossi, who earns $179,000, has been superintendent of the 3,000-student district for nearly nine years, enjoying high regard from parents. Previously he was the middle school principal and director of programming and development for a total of 11 years.

Last month, weeks before his accident, he addressed middle school students and parents as part of a drug and alcohol awareness program.

School representatives said they did not know how long Del Rossi would be away, and it was unclear if he would be paid during his leave. His hearing on DUI charges is set for April 12 in Evesham.

Police said that the crash occurred around 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday and that Del Rossi told them he was trying to avoid hitting a deer.

In his statement dated Monday, his last day of work before his leave began, Del Rossi apologized "for any inconvenience, concern or unrest this situation has caused our school district, especially our students."

He continued: "I know at this time there are many unanswered questions, but for legal reasons I can't address them. At some point in the very near future I look forward to doing that."

His lawyer, John S. Sitzler, did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

The school board and school officials would have no additional comments, according to an e-mail sent to The Inquirer by a district representative.

Previously, School Board President Michael Etter declined to comment, saying he believed that would be improper. "It's a personnel issue," he said.

Etter said the board would discuss the matter in private session, including Del Rossi's use of the district vehicle that evening.


Contact Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or jhefler@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @JanHefler. Read her blog at philly.com/BurlcoBuzz.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|