Upper Darby schools chief Louis DeVlieger will leave

Posted: February 16, 2013

Upper Darby School Superintendent Louis DeVlieger, who has worked in the district for 25 years and led it for the last four, will step down at the end of this school year.

"It's been a great ride," said DeVlieger, who has also been a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent in one of the state's biggest districts.

DeVlieger, who turns 62 on July 1, has been an educator for 40 years, working at Cardinal O'Hara High School before coming to Upper Darby. Now, he said, he wants to spend time with his family.

"It's time for me to shift gears, so to speak, before we become empty-nesters." He said that his oldest child is getting married this summer and that his youngest will be off to the University of Scranton.

He said he had no specific retirement plans but might teach college. Or, he said, he could write a book, maybe a text on being a superintendent or one on his moonlighting experiences as a younger man, working at the Electric Factory and meeting the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Jerry Garcia.

Upper Darby is "a phenomenal school district," he said. Still, the recent years have been tough, with deficits that required program cuts and hard choices.

"It's very taxing," DeVlieger said. "As a superintendent, you always want to enhance, not diminish, opportunities for children."

In deciding to retire, he said, he thought of his father, who, at his age, after having raised 10 children and running his own business, had to stop working because of declining health. He said that his grandfather and great-grandfather died young, at 56. DeVlieger said he goes to a gym daily.

He said he was confronting another challenging budget season, with a projected $9.4 million deficit. He added that he remained passionate about education and was optimistic about what is ahead.

"I've got this little window this summer to enjoy [his family], and then I'm wide open to opportunity," he said.

He said he was leaving at a good time.

"I would rather step down with people saying, 'I wish he was staying,' rather than, 'Why the hell doesn't he leave?' " DeVlieger said.

Contact Rita Giordano at 610-313-8232, rgiordano@phillynews.com or on Twitter @ritagiordano.

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