A veteran educator with a reputation of fairness and openness has been appointed the new president of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Delaware County.
Thomas S. Fertal, who has served as principal of Lancaster Catholic High School since 2010, will assume the responsibilities in Springfield on June 1, said a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Hel replaces William J. McCusker, president of O’Hara since 2001, who had previously announced his retirement.
Fertal, 46, is credited with guiding Lancaster Catholic through a turbulent period that followed painful teacher layoffs and a $1.6 million deficit.
"I didn’t go in with guns blazing," Fertal said in an interview with Philly.com. "It came down to getting everyone together, rolling up our sleeves and crafting solutions one at a time."
Those experiences will serve him well at O’Hara, which is going through some turbulance of its own. Last month, the high school’s former principal, Marie Rogai, filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination after being fired in November. Her suit stated that five months earlier she had been offered the job of associate superintendent.
Fertal said he didn't know enough about the situation to comment on Rogai.
"But coming in as a leader you take in to account what has gone before," the Bethlehem-native said. "You have to be sensitive."
Fertal describes himself on his Twitter page as a "Zealous Catholic, Guitar Player and Black Belt." He also admits to being a "dark chocolate fiend." He has written extensively about new approaches to student discipline.
Fertal has been married to his wife Patty for 19 years and has six children, He holds a B.S. in Administration of Justice from Penn State, a masters in Restorative Practices and Education, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in leadership from Alvernia University in Reading.