New Castle News

Schools

June 19, 2013

Our Opinion: New Castle school tuition travesty? Enough is enough

NEW CASTLE — New Castle’s taxpayers deserve an explanation. And some money.

With the release of the latest Pennsylvania auditor general’s report on the city’s schools, it’s been revealed that some district employees abused taxpayers to the tune of more than $110,000.

And that’s the amount we know about. Maybe there’s more.

We refer to a finding in the audit report that cited a four-year period where seven children who were non-residents attended city schools without the proper payment of tuition.

What’s more, the parents of these students were school district employees.

To say this is disturbing is an understatement. It’s outrageous that district employees would do this, and it’s just as bad that, apparently, no one called them on it.

At least until the auditor general’s office looked into the matter.

Questions about this scandal hang heavy in the air. The audit report does not identify the parents, but the public deserves to know who they are. It also deserves to know who either dropped the ball within the district or conveniently looked the other way.

It is impossible to accept the argument that the failure to pay tuition for these students was a simple misunderstanding. Surely the district employees knew the rules.

And as the audit report notes, state and district policies were violated by the failure to request and obtain any documentation related to residency in these cases. In two cases, claims that children were in the custody of grandparents who lived in the district included nothing on file to show that.

So what’s going on here? Is it just a coincidence that all of these cases involved the children of district employees? We find that hard to believe. We also find it hard to believe district officials were oblivious to what was going on.

We understand the New Castle school board is now looking into the matter. What puzzles us is that this information has been available to the board and administration for some time. Yet there apparently have been no consequences. It is only when the report is finally — belatedly in our view — made public that matters are supposedly being attended to.

And what will happen as a result of the board’s examination? At the very least, administrators should be held accountable and the district needs to go after these employees for the money that is now owed to the district.

Plus, the public should have a full explanation of what happened here. No one should be allowed to wiggle out of this.

And in that regard, we think there is ample reason for a criminal investigation into this incident. If records were falsified or deceptions made to receive free tuition, doesn’t that constitute theft and fraud?

The New Castle school board needs to stand up for the taxpayers here. Enough is enough.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Schools
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.
     

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

"State Fair" opens at the New Castle Playhouse tonight. Will you be checking out the show?

Definitely! I've already got my tickets.
Maybe. I'm not sure.
Nah, it's not for me.
     View Results