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Updated at 3:40 p.m. Friday, May 6.

If Aberdeen High School students leave the building after the start of school Monday morning, they will charged with an unexcused absence from class, the Harford County Public Schools communications director said Friday afternoon.

Teri Kranefeld, manager of communications, said the school system does not plan to take any extraordinary measures in anticipation of a student walkout or other protest concerning the reassignment of the school's principal, Thomas Szerensits.

Organizers of what is being called the Save Szerensits protest originally said they expected students to walk out after the 7:30 a.m. bell sounds for the first period Monday. (See story below.)

However, emails and phone messages received by The Aegis Friday indicated the students plan to gather at the flagpole between 7 and 7:30 a.m., before school actually starts, because they believe the school will be locked down once they are inside.

"We are expecting a normal instructional day Monday; nothing is being done differently," Kranefeld said. "If students decide to participate in a protest and leave the building, they will be charged with an unexcused absence."

Kranefeld said there have been no instructions given to teachers concerning the walkout "to my knowledge." She likewise denied the school will be locked down once students are inside Monday so they can't leave the building to protest in support of their principal.

Kranefeld said the school system has not requested any additional police presence at the school Monday, "other than the school resource officer" normally assigned to AHS by the Aberdeen Police Department.

Originally published Thursday, May 5.

Upset over their principal�s impending departure, Aberdeen High School students are organizing a protest for Monday morning, according to a school parent.

Marianne Handlir, the mother of a sophomore at AHS, said a walkout is planned for Monday morning at 7:30, when the bell rings for first period.

The majority of the students, and Handlir, will stand outside of the school and protest. Some have already made T-shirts, she added.

"I'm thoroughly behind the kids because he's a good principal," she said of principal Tom Szerensits, one of two Harford high school principals being forced out of their jobs by Superintendent Robert Tomback.

Handlir wrote in an e-mail Thursday that students will be wearing white Friday, as a show of support for Szerensits.

The protest started with the creation of a Facebook page on which students and parents have been voicing� their support for Szerensits and criticizing school officials.

Szerensits, the school�s principal for the last eight years, was told he wouldn�t be back next year during a private meeting last month with Tomback.

The same day, according to sources, Tomback delivered the same message to Joppatowne High School principal Macon Tucker Jr. Both men were told their choices were to retire, accept reassignment or face the prospect of being fired.

The Save Szerensits Facebook Page was started Monday and as of Thursday morning, more than 560 people have liked the page.

The comments range from praise for Szerensits to anger over the situation, but a common theme is using a protest to show support for the principal.

�The more people we have for the protest, the less consequences there will be,� on student wrote on the Facebook page. �They will threaten suspension, but we have to stay respectful, stand our ground, and support Szerensits.�

Szerensits was promoted to his current position prior to the 2002-03 school year.

When he met with Tomback April 20, he was told he could not return next year as AHS principal.

Szerensits has since sent a letter to the school community, dated April 29, in which he said he regrets he will be leaving.

Teri Kranefeld, the Harford school system�s manager of communications, wrote in an e-mail Thursday that she was unable to comment on personnel matters and could not speak about Szerensits' future.

�Many transfers, appointments and reassignments in administrative positions will occur over the summer,� Kranefeld wrote, �and will be communicated to school communities as appropriate.�

Phone calls made to Szerensits Thursday were not returned.

In his letter to the school community, Szerensits confirmed he was given a choice by Tomback of either retiring or being demoted, but the letter did not say what he will do.

Kranefeld said it was Szerensits� �decision� to send the letter, which was not approved beforehand by his superiors, or by Tomback.

Kranefeld said principals have the authority to independently communicate with their school communities.

Tucker, an Aberdeen resident who has been principal at Joppatowne since the 2001-02 school year, has not commented publicly about his situation; however, sources say he has decided to retire.

user comments (2)

user fightthesystem says...

Tomback must be stopped, this is the futures of many children at stake. The education of our youth is not a game, Tomback is using his position to benefit himself and his cronies, not the children he was hired to serve. Don't let this happen to Mr. Tom, it will be a serious mistake to allow the removal of a man who is so passionate about his job and helping the youth of his community. Tomback could learn a few things from Mr. Szerensits, his passion, his class, and most importantly loyalty. This is not the way to repay a man who has dedicated his life to being the best educator, administrator, and father anyone could ask for, believe me, I know the family personally and have for many years. Spread the word: and

user cbreze says...

Harford County school system is a complete mess and always has been. All of those in charge have always used the system to promote their favorites and get rid of the ones who don't play the game. This also applies to students. Regardless of how they affect the children. So many Harford Co students fall thru the cracks every school year. I hope the parents and students find success in helping their principal...I doubt it though.




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