New Castle News

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July 29, 2013

Mitchel Olszak: Citizens must act amid scandal

NEW CASTLE —

This is a tale of two school systems.

In one, a scandal erupts and the board and administration wrestle with it. But they act aggressively and a top official is forced to resign.

And although they could have made the case to keep matters quiet, they publicly produced details of an audit report and turned matters over to law enforcement for further investigation.

In the second, a scandal of another sort arises. Yet this affair involves multiple individuals, rather than just one. But instead of being open, officials in this school system make every effort to protect the parties responsible. No names are revealed and no move is made to get police and prosecutors involved.

Despite the loss to taxpayers, citizens are kept in the dark as much as possible.

Readers of the New Castle News will recognize these two tales. The first involves Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV, where revelations the former executive director allegedly was using the organization’s credit card for personal benefit were openly discussed and dealt with.

This despite the fact the affair was an embarrassment to the unit, not only casting a cloud over its leadership, but calling into question its oversight of spending.

However, the decision was made that the responsible move was to be up front and let the chips fall where they may. It was the right thing to do.

The second story, of course, involves the New Castle school district and recent revelations that several employees had received free tuition for their non-resident students.

But here, coming clean and standing up for the public’s right to know wasn’t viewed as an option. In a style sadly typical for this district, the wagons were circled and the citizens were left on the outside looking in.

Despite the fact multiple people were involved and there are serious questions of how all of this could happen without the knowledge of administrators, no information is forthcoming. And there has been no movement to turn the matter over to law enforcement to get to the bottom of things.

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