Sussex Tech’s new superintendent to start July 1

GEORGETOWN – Sussex Technical School District will have a new superintendent, effective July 1.

At a special April 17 meeting, Sussex Technical School District’s board of education voted to hire Stephen H. Guthrie as the administrative leader.

Stephen Guthrie

With 35-plus years’ experience in education, Mr. Guthrie comes to the Sussex Tech district having served the past eight years as superintendent of the 25,500-student Carroll County Public School District in Westminster, MD. Sussex Tech’s grade 9-12 enrollment is roughly 1,300.

Mr. Guthrie will assume the superintendent position previously held by A.J. Lathbury, among the senior-level administrators placed on paid leave by the school board in the wake of a critical state audit released in early June of 2017.

That State Office of Auditor of Accounts report identified piggybacking, bidding violations, circumvention and conflict of interest in million-dollar dealings between the Sussex Technical School District and a local businessman.

“It basically was a circumvention of the system,” said State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner in assessing the audit.

The audit report stated that “throughout the course of this inspection, Sussex Tech lacked appropriate scrutiny of transactions and enforcement of fiscal policies and procedures.”

The audit drew immediate response from downstate legislators, who in a joint statement said the report “raises some troubling questions about Sussex Tech. It calls into question how key operational and strategic decisions are being made at the school; how tax dollars are being spent; and if sufficient oversight is being exercised.”

In the interim, the Sussex Tech board of education tasked John Demby, Sussex Tech High School principal, and John Sell, assistant principal, to handle the district’s day-to-day operations.

Mr. Guthrie began his career as a social studies teacher in 1978. He taught in both California and Pennsylvania before coming to Carroll County in 1982. He was promoted to human resources in 1991 and became the director of the department in 2001. He then served as the school system’s assistant superintendent of administration for eight years before becoming superintendent of schools.

In 2015, Mr. Guthrie was elected president of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland. Further, he was honored as the 2015 Maryland Superintendent of the Year.

Mr. Guthrie and his wife Barbara will reside in Bethany Beach.

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