Teachers plead for principal’s return after reportedly put on leave
Those familiar with Fredonia Middle School Principal Andrew Ludwig note his presence and impact during the school week.
As teachers relayed at a Tuesday board of education meeting, he greets students entering school and broadcasts announcements in the morning. He fixes jammed lockers and sends students off as they embark on a field trip.
Those are some of the many things he does in any given week, according to the eight individuals who spoke.
Recently, Ludwig’s presence at the middle school has been missing. On Tuesday, a large group of teachers, parents and students came to the meeting to ask why. The principal of 15 years wasn’t present for the meeting. His name tag didn’t appear on the table like usual.
No answer regarding his absence was given by school officials. No details were given on how long it would be either.
Since last week, rumors have run amok regarding Ludwig and what led him to be reportedly placed on leave by the school. Talk has swirled around a video allegedly showing Ludwig trying to restrain a student who was acting out.
Parent Heather Davis said she’s struggling with the way the district’s handling the situation. She said many are speculating, and with that come rumors.
“That’s what I really think is going on right now. I don’t know what’s going on. No one knows what’s going on,” she said. “I have four children, including an exchange student, asking ‘Where is he?’ ‘Is he OK?'”
Those who spoke about Ludwig called him a role model, a leader who works morning to evening and a listener to students and staff. Middle School Teacher Lynda Sentz called him “the heart and soul of Fredonia Middle School.” Sentz was the first to tell the board what Ludwig is to the middle school, its students and staff. Many attendees rose with Sentz as she spoke.
“Andy makes each day fun for students with his sense of humor, but he stresses the importance of learning and doing one’s best,” she said. “He’s vigilant, visible in the hallways and his door is always open to students and staff alike. We are proud to work for him. Nobody works harder than our principal Andrew Ludwig.”
Some members were visually emotional as individuals spoke. Chris Rivera, Fredonia graduate and current school employee, told the board what role Ludwig played in his life.
“I was one of those kids where my bank account for lunch was empty and I was one of those kids who was poor, my mom was a single parent. He knew that and always took care of me,” he said. “When I needed a job, I didn’t have enough money for the fingerprint and he busted out a $100 from his wallet and told me, ‘Go get your fingerprint, you’re going to get a job here.’ If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a job here working with these amazing teachers.”
From a student perspective, Joseph Gullo, sophomore class president, told board members how important Ludwig is in preserving a safe environment for students who want to learn.
“He understands the students, he knows our names, he knows how to deal with students in a fair away,” he said. “He’s a disciplinarian, but isn’t hated by the students.”
Bobseine said the school board appreciated the comments. He said anything that comes out “will come out in due time.”
The OBSERVER spoke to Superintendent Jeffrey Sortisio regarding Ludwig on Monday. Sortisio declined comment.