Harford County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tomback was a no-show Tuesday for his first scheduled appearance at Aberdeen High School since his controversial removal of Principal Tom Szerensits, due to what the school system called a last-minute scheduling conflict.
According to advance information, Tomback had been scheduled to give opening remarks at the presentation of capstone projects from the school’s Science and Math Academy program on Tuesday night. But it was Bill Lawrence, associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, who instead presented a brief speech at the event, at which Szerensits was present.
HCPS spokeswoman Teri Kranefeld said the switch had nothing to do with Tomback’s removal late last month of Szerensits as principal, effective at the end of the school year, or with a May 9 protest which saw hundreds of students skip class and cause aportion of Paradise Road to be briefly shut down.
“As is not unusual for this time of year, a last-minute conflict came up in Dr. Tomback’s schedule and Mr. Lawrence brought greetings on his behalf,” Kranefeld said.
While Tomback was not present, his actions were still a topic of discussion. In his own prepared comments, Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett threw his support behind Szerensits, earning a loud round of applause from the crowd.
“Your principal is, bar none, one of the best principals I’ve ever seen in my life,” Bennett said. “And for what it’s worth he has the total support of the Aberdeen city council and we’re going to do whatever we can to see what will happen in the future.”
Szerensits also spoke briefly, telling those present, “[I] appreciate it that you stood up for me when I needed it most.”