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Former Dieruff High School acting principal leaves Allentown School District

Dieruff High School's former acting principal will leave Allentown for a leadership role in another local district. (Amy Shortell / Morning 첥Ƶ file photo)
Amy Shortell / Morning 첥Ƶ file photo
Dieruff High School’s former acting principal will leave Allentown for a leadership role in another local district. (Amy Shortell / Morning 첥Ƶ file photo)
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Allentown School Board approved the resignation of Melissa Petronio, the former acting principal of Dieruff High School, at Thursday’s board meeting.

Petronio served in the role of acting principal for more than 10 months before Geoffrey Schmidt, a Lehigh University graduate and former Massachusetts administrator, started as principal in recent weeks. The school board approved his hiring at a meeting in November.

In recent months, Petronio had told the district she wanted to continue leading the school, but they had already found a candidate at the time, school directors previously said.

Petronio first took over as acting principal in March 2023 when the previous principal, Michael Makhoul, went out on family and medical leave before subsequently resigning in April. He had been Dieruff’s principal since 2019.

Prior to serving in the acting principal position, Petronio was an assistant vice principal, which is the role listed in the personnel report noting her resignation.

Petronio did not respond to a Thursday request for comment on her departure.

In November, school directors said Petronio didn’t initially apply for the principal position and only told the district she wanted to continue leading the school in the permanent role after a final candidate had been selected.

During the November board meeting, staff and students asked the school board to reconsider Petronio for the role, but members ultimately approved Schmidt’s hiring.

According to personnel reports, Petronio was hired to serve as assistant principal at Southern Lehigh High School and will start in the role later this month.

Allentown School District is expected to begin a search soon for another new principal, at Allen High School.

Frank Derrick, the district’s director of recruitment and retention, has been acting principal there since Cheryl Clark was placed on leave amid controversy over her leadership. Clark was demoted to assistant principal at Dieruff but remained on leave until her termination last month.

Morning 첥Ƶ reporter Jenny Roberts can be reached at jroberts@mcall.com.

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