Hearing on Helen Thackston charter scheduled for 10/17 has been canceled

The hearing officer has granted the joint request from counsel for both the Helen Thackston Charter School and the School District of the City of York to cancel a public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17. The hearing is continued until Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 a.m.

School District Of The City Of York


The School District is honored to have a prestigious Board of School Directors at our helm.

Front Row (from left to right): President Margie Orr, Lois Garnett, Diane Brown, Juanita Kirkland Back Row (from left to right): Michael Breeland, Vice President Michael Miller, David Moser, Jose Santiago. Missing from photo: James Sawor.


Learn more about our Directors here:

Margie Orr – President

Margie Orr was three years old when she moved to the City of York with her parents from Bamberg, South Carolina. She grew up on West Hope Avenue, a neighborhood that took part in integrating the city’s schools. Orr attended the Princess Street School in grades 1 to 4 and later attended Smallwood Elementary School, which was located on the current site of York High.

Orr was a member of the first graduating class at the new Hannah Penn building, the district’s junior high school at the time. Orr followed the business preparation path and graduated from York High in 1963.

After graduation, Orr entered the work force. For more than 20 years, she worked for McCrory’s Corporation in the data-entry department.

Later, she worked for Atkins House, a transition facility for female offenders leaving prison. There, Orr saw the need for more housing facilities to serve this population. She opened the Willows on East Poplar Street, a transitional housing facility for female offenders, in the 1990s until about 2002.

Orr was appointed to the district’s Board of School Directors in 2009 and later elected. She is now serving her second four-year term. Orr has served as the board’s president for three years.

Orr is the youngest of four siblings, all of whom attended the School District of the City of York. She has raised five grandchildren, all of whom graduated from high school. She has also served as a caretaker for three great-grandchildren.

Orr has always been an education advocate and an active participant in her children’s lives. After her grandchildren graduated from high school, she decided to continue her advocacy on the Board of School Directors. She believes it is her calling to work on behalf of York City families to make the School District of the City of York the best it can be.

Diane Brown

As a child growing up in York, Diane Brown was a part of some major changes in the district. She grew up on the west-end of town during the riots in York. Although McKinley School was closer and in walking distance, Brown was eventually bussed to Devers School when she entered the 4th grade to assist in integrating that school.

Brown entered York High in 1976, when the high school offered a latitude of many different programs, classes and activities – the planetarium, swimming pool, co-op classes, sports, home economics and shop classes, to name a few. Brown was involved in many of the civic and government activities at school, including Senate and House of Representatives. She graduated from York High in 1980 and obtained a business certificate from the Skills Training Center in 1985. She has been employed with Columbia Gas since 1987 and is currently a Manager Regulatory Compliance.

Brown has two daughters who are 12 years apart. So, as one daughter was graduating from York High in 2001, her other daughter was starting first grade. Brown became very active with the parent advisory council in 2007 and volunteered to be a Parent Liaison under the Title 1 program. She later became President of Parent Advocates for Children (PAC). She continues to promote parent and community involvement in our schools because it’s a huge part of the link for our students’ achievement.

Brown was appointed to the school board in December 2012. She remains on the school board because she believes that, with the right resources, innovations and partnerships, the York City School District can rise above the deficiencies.

Lois Garnett

As a parent of York City graduates, a former teacher of York City students, and a resident of York City, Lois Garnett considers herself fortunate to be a “Bearcat through the backdoor.” Lois became a Bearcat when she started teaching in York City. Everyone in her family graduated from York High except her, but despite not being from York, she takes great pride in her Bearcat roots. She taught for 33.5 years, 18 of which were spent in York City. Garnett believes that our kids are the best Pennsylvania has to offer.

Garnett became a member of the School Board to help make positive changes to move the district forward and to foster a stronger relationship between the community and the district. Being on the School Board gives her the chance to give back to the district that continuously supported her family. York City students deserve an excellent education, opportunities to serve the community, to tap into their strengths and talents, and a place where they feel safe and know people have their backs. Through her position on the School Board, she remains a dedicated advocate for our students and a familiar face around the hallways she knows and loves.

Juanita Kirkland

Juanita Kirkland was elected to the York City Board of School Directors in January of 2016. She is a lifetime resident of the City of York and a product of the York City School District. She is the former Director of Social Services for the Crispus Attucks Early Learning Center, where she worked with families with children who attended York City schools.

She previously served as the Parent and Community Support Liaison for the York City School District. In this role, she organized a parent group known today as Parent Advocates for Children (PAC). Kirkland co-founded the Block and Tackle Character, Leadership and Responsibility Program (BT Express). The BT Express provided personal development training, arranged SAT preparation, facilitated college tours and offered after-school tutorial and mentoring services. Under her and her husband’s management, more than 250 former York High athletes were inducted into the William Penn Senior High School Sports Hall of Fame. Kirkland also worked to introduce the Education First Parade and Rally. This annual event promotes stakeholder partnerships, positive community relationships and support for students, parents, teachers and administration.

Kirkland continues to be a longtime advocate for educational rights and opportunities for all children, especially students with special needs. She has received numerous community service awards, including the prestigious Alexander D. Goode Four Chaplain’s Legion of Honor Award. Kirkland resides in York with her husband, Kerry. They have five children (1 deceased), all of whom attended York City Schools. She also has seven beautiful grandchildren.

Michael Miller

Born in the City of York, Michael Miller has served the School District of the City of York since 2011 as School Director, Vice Chair of the Board, and Chair of Buildings and Grounds Committee. In addition, Miller is a member of the Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12 Board of Directors, where he has served as past Vice Chair and is presently serving as Chair along with being a member of the Finance, Personnel and Negotiations Committees.

Since 1970, Miller has recreated three separate Victorian homes within the historic Doctors Row Neighborhood along York’s West Market Street. The buildings and landscaping have been restored to the 1837 – 1901 era.

He is a member of his church, a former Chair of the Victorian Society, former Chair of his neighborhood association and former Chair of the York Alliance of Neighborhood Association. He is currently the Vice Chair of the York Zoning Hearing Board.

Being the first on both sides of his family to attend higher education, following graduation from Pennsylvania State University – York, Miller has advanced from drafting, designing, and engineering to become a Registered Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania and Maryland. He became the Director of Mechanical Engineering of the York-based architectural engineering firm of Buchart Horn. Before retirement, he was involved with HVAC, Plumbing, Fire Protection, Storm Water Management, Solar, and Green/Sustainable building projects in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Italy, including more than 300 schools, 16 prisons, dozens of nursing homes, government buildings, offices, apartments, factories and warehouses.

Through the school year, Miller frequently visits every school building to observe every grade level and subjects. He is often found reading to the younger students or admiring the class work, projects, music, art and athleticism of older students.

Miller is dedicated to providing a healthy and safe academic environment for every student to achieve their maximum potential through education, while providing responsible focused stewardship of the resources of the York community and the Commonwealth.

Jose Santiago

Jose Santiago was born in York in 1966 at York Hospital. He attended Noel School for two years and Franklin school for one year, finishing his elementary education at Jackson school. Santiago went on to attend Hannah Penn and then York High, graduating in 1984.

Santiago joined the Army after high school and served through November 1998. He served tours in Germany, Korea and Kuwait.

After returning to York, Santiago earned his Master Molder Certification through Penn State and RJG injection molding school. Santiago is currently Plant Manager for Injection Molding Company in Hummelstown, Pa. He spends most of his Saturday afternoons with his Bethel Commandment Church family in York.

Santiago serves as Vice President of the York Spanish Center (Centro Hispano José Hernandez ) and on the panel for services at Senior Life.  He previously served as Vice Commissioner for the York County Football Association, administrative director for Wellington Youth Sports and as a coach on all levels of the youth football organization.

Santiago believes we have to be a strong force in our community and not give up when things are tough. The whole community must get involved to combat challenges York families and children face.

James Sawor

James Sawor has served on the York City School Board since January 2014, when he was appointed to a vacancy. He was then elected to stay on the board. In his role, he has been a strong advocate of keeping the city schools public, and fought against any idea of privatization. He is a strong supporter not just of the children and their education but of the quality employees we have throughout the district. Sawor worked with the administration and the arts community to bring back the William Penn Performing Arts Institute so that students would see additional electives offered. Sawor has served as the financial committee chair over the past two years, overseeing the administration’s excellent work at bringing our finances to a balanced, state-approved level. He has also reported on Dollars for Scholars since his appointment in 2014.

Sawor spent his childhood dreaming of being a teacher. An honor graduate of William Penn Senior High School, with intensive studies in science, Sawor stayed in York to raise his daughter, now 16. He attended York College and received a bachelor’s degree in political science. He is now a graduate student at Shippensburg University studying public administration. Sawor volunteers much of his time in the York community for numerous organizations, while also working full-time as a records specialist at York County Department of Emergency Services for 10 years.



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