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Leiner announces school board resignation

Whitehall-Coplay School Board member William Leiner Jr. gave notice to the board and Whitehall-Coplay School District Superintendent Dr. Lorie Hackett that he is vacating his director seat, effective April 12.

“Over the past few weeks, it has become abundantly clear the health challenge I am facing requires more focus and attention from me than previously thought. I am convinced healing will take time and active effort,” Leiner stated in a news release.

The WCSB is reaching out to former board members to see if there is interest in temporarily filling the seat until the election in November and appointment of new members in December. The board will accept and review resumes if necessary.

Leiner retired from Bethlehem Steel after 27 years, where he began as a laborer, advanced to a machinist position and later became a leader with the United Steelworkers Local 2598 and 2599.

Near the end of his time at Bethlehem Steel, Leiner became a board-certified registered nurse, specializing in psychiatric care.

During his career as an elected official, which began in 1995, he has been a Coplay Borough Council member, the mayor of Coplay and a Lehigh County commissioner at-large before he was elected to the WCSB in both November 2015 and 2019.

Leiner, the married father of six, has six grandchildren and one “warm and fuzzy dog.”

“I am delighted to see a full range of candidates pursuing a seat on the Whitehall-Coplay School Board. This is a welcomed change,” he stated in the news release. “It truly is wonderful to see younger people running for political office. I think we need more of this at every level of government.”

In the time Leiner spent on the board, he said he is most proud to have been part of the introduction of full-day kindergarten, planning the new elementary school, increasing safety at each school and the renovation of the athletic stadium.

However, he believes not enough has been done to address the needs of WCSD’s diverse population, as well as students’ mental health and addiction issues, and says trauma-informed education needs to be a priority. Leiner hopes that he will soon see more diversity in WCSD staff.

“Kids need to see adults in school who look like them. This is evidence based that kids in a diverse student population benefit best from a teacher/staff population that reflects them,” Leiner said.

Leiner said he is grateful for the experience and knowledge he gained during his time as a director.

“The time I spent with board members, administrators and our solicitor serving our district families and children have been personally and professionally rewarding. These are experiences and memories I cherish,” Leiner said.

Hackett thanked Leiner for his five years of service on the board, including his two years as treasurer.

“Mr. Leiner is clearly dedicated to the well-being and success of the students of the district,” Hackett said. “His contributions to the school board and the district are an example of his dedication to public service.”