NEW CASTLE —
So let’s review:
A report by the Pennsylvania auditor general’s office found that non-resident employees of the New Castle school district had been sending their children to city schools.
However, these employees were not paying the legally required tuition. The auditor general found $110,664 worth of tuition that wasn’t paid. As a result, the district did not get the tuition from these parents, plus it had to return state subsidy funds that had covered those students.
Furthermore, the districts where these students actually lived did not receive the subsidy either — because they didn’t attend schools there.
Who picks up the tab for all of this? Why the local taxpayers do, of course.
Now, a prudent and ethically upright person might wonder what’s being done about all of this. For instance, how does the district intend to get its money back? Who were these people and how did they get away with it? Was there any collusion? Did district officials look the other way? Are there any plans to press criminal charges in a matter that is difficult to excuse as carelessness or a mistake?
And perhaps most significant: If these are the cases the auditor general’s office knew about, how many others were there?
These are the sorts of questions we’ve had at the New Castle News. And we believe it is our responsibility as the community’s newspaper to find the answers and report them to the public.
As part of this process, the newspaper submitted a right to know request to the school district, asking for assorted information. For instance, we wanted to know who these employees are and who was involved in overseeing residency issues.
On Monday, The News received its answer in a letter from the district dated July 16. Basically, the answer was no, but it was the reason we found most interesting.
We were told that the records we requested do not exist and that the district is not required under the open records law to produce them.
Let’s think about that for a moment. The district is saying it has no record of who these employees are.
Now, if you ran a business and an auditor told you employees were using company services without paying for them, wouldn’t you be just a tiny bit curious about who those employees are?
Wouldn’t you be taking steps to get your money back, and even seeking to have these employees fired or criminally prosecuted?
Not in the New Castle school district. There, the administration is apparently claiming it doesn’t even have a record identifying the people involved.
Needless to say, The News will continue to pursue these records via appeal. But meanwhile, we think city residents ought to be asking their administrators and board members what’s going on here. Curiosity and public accountability seem to be in short supply in the district.
NEW CASTLE —
So let’s review:
New Castle Schools: Leave with pay was superintendent’s call
When a New Castle school district employee is placed on administrative leave, it typically is the superintendent’s decision. District solicitor Charles Sapienza said in an email last week that the district has no policy governing when and why an employee is placed on administrative leave or whether he or she should be paid during that leave.
Agreement allows nonresident students at Laurel
Five Laurel teachers who live outside the Laurel School District have enrolled their children in the district. They are taking advantage of a memorandum of agreement between the district and the Laurel Education Association that took effect at the beginning of the current school year.
Allegations result in principal on leave
New Castle Junior High School principal Robert Razzano is on administrative leave with pay. Meanwhile, New Castle police said they are investigating a reported incident at the junior high involving an employee.
Shenango board set to fill vacancy
The Shenango Area School Board is expected to appoint Dean Owrey on Monday to fill a vacancy on the board. Owrey, chief financial officer of the University of PittsburghMC’s information services division, was selected from among 16 people who expressed interest in the position.
Hearing set on school building’s future
A hearing Wednesday will determine the future of an abandoned school building. The Pulaski Township supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. at the municipal building to determine whether the former New Bedford school on Schoolhouse Road violates the township dangerous buildings ordinance.
School money split under scrutiny
Pennsylvania spreads $10 billion in education dollars using a ragged method that is prone to political influence, according to legislators and groups who are calling for reform.
In The Schools: New Castle staffers heading to San Diego
New Castle school district personnel are heading to California to continue improving their approach in teaching students to read. The school board Monday gave permission to George Washington Intermediate School principal Joseph Anderson, elementary principal Debra DeBlasio and district facilitators Shelly Bucci and Andrea Martin to attend the Success For All reading conference Feb. 5 to 9 in San Diego.
Arts academy to appeal after board says no to charter school
The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School plans to contest the New Castle school board’s denial of its charter. The board voted 9-0 Monday to reject the academy’s application to open an arts-infused charter school in the former Days Inn. The action came after a public hearing and public board discussion about the application.
Emergency substitute teacher course offered
Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV is offering a training program to qualify college graduates as emergency substitute teachers.
Photo Gallery, Story: Kindergartners have first day at new Lockley
Young eyes were wide with wonder. Four- and 5-year-olds bundled in winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens got off school buses Wednesday morning and walked single file into a brand new school.
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- New Castle Schools: Leave with pay was superintendent’s call