New Castle News


November 13, 2012

New Castle Schools: Didn’t know about summer school, Gabriel says

NEW CASTLE — New Castle’s school superintendent says he had no idea the district was running summer school classes for a board member’s son.

“I found out when I got notice that the Ethics Commission was investigating,” George Gabriel said last night.

Gabriel was referring to a state Ethics Commission report made public online Friday. The report details its investigation into the district’s having offered college-level courses to Matt Kirkwood. He is a college student whose father, Mark Kirkwood, sits on the school board.

The younger Kirkwood was the only student in the class, according to the report, and district teachers were paid as instructors.

The district’s program — called College in High School — through Seton Hill University, had been approved by the school board in 2010 for juniors and seniors in high school.

Kirkwood’s father sought to enroll his son in a summer program to obtain college credits so he could transfer from a community college in Alabama to a university in Ohio in order to receive a baseball scholarship.

The father had approached Terry Meehan, assistant to the superintendent, about whether he knew of any credit courses his son could take, according to the report.

 Meehan, assistant to the superintendent, in turn, arranged for the summer school program for the younger Kirkwood in 2010 through the College in High School program.

Meehan told the New Castle News on Friday that his plan was to use it as a trial program for other college students in the future.

The agreement with Seton Hill for the program had been approved by the school board for high school juniors and seniors with a grant.

The board did not vote to approve the special summer classes for Kirkwood, nor had it voted to include college students in the Seton Hill program.

The Ethics Commission found that “a transgression” of the state Public Officials and Employee Ethics Act occurred when the district’s program was used to assist Kirkwood’s son in getting college credits to obtain an athletic scholarship that would minimize the financial burden of his college education.

The commission concluded that Kirkwood, a school director since 2003, used the district to obtain the credits for his son at reduced cost in order to get his athletic scholarship.

Gabriel said last night that he first learned about the matter when he was notified that he was to be questioned by the Ethics Commission about a year ago.

Since the investigation was initiated, Kirkwood paid Seton Hill $44,495 for the full tuition of the two courses and the district $674 for the cost of two teachers who taught his son.

The Ethics Commission also has ordered him to pay $1,000 for its investigation costs.

Now that the report has been released, Gabriel said he does not know whether there will be sanctions against any district personnel for conducting the program without his or board knowledge but “that would be a personnel matter.”

He said that as of last night he had not read the detailed, 26-page report.

The board members made no mention nor had public discussion of the findings at last night’s meeting.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • money.jpg Up through the ground comes education cash

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg Charter school petitions court with signatures

    The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School has petitioned the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas for an appeal.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Schools wait years to receive state’s share of construction bills

    More than 200 school building projects are awaiting money from the state — in some cases months and years after they cleared all other hurdles of Pennsylvania’s approval process.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Vo-tech staffers receive Pride and Promise awards

    The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s joint operating committee has presented Pride and Promise awards to two employees.

    April 1, 2014

  • Rich.jpg Official sorting out vo-tech finances

    Second of two parts: The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center is plowing through a financial quagmire with help from the Laurel School District.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Rich.jpg Overtime pay the crux of vo-tech forensic audit

    First of two parts: Lawrence County Career and Technical Center’s former assistant business manager allegedly logged overtime while on vacation, an audit report shows.

    March 26, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Audit report details alleged discrepancies

    Forensic auditors examining Lawrence County’s vocational-technical school funds focused on overtime pay of the assistant business manager.

    March 26, 2014 1 Story

  • Audit shows more than overtime issues

    A forensic audit of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center finances turned up more than alleged unauthorized overtime pay.

    March 26, 2014

  • Letter.jpg Our Opinion: Recording executive sessions will limit abuse

    Whenever governing bodies have public meetings, they often opt to conduct executive sessions.This is perfectly legal under Pennsylvania law — so long as the basic purpose for the executive session is explained to the public and so long as officials refrain from discussing matters in private that are required to be addressed in the open.

    March 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • State sponsoring dog license poster contest

    The state Department of Agriculture is inviting  students to enter a poster contest about the importance of dog licensing. The contest is open to all Pennsylvania students of grades 1 through 6, enrolled in public, private or home schooled children. The entry deadline is April 30.

    March 20, 2014

House Ads

Are you concerned enough about the Heartbleed bug on the Internet to change all of your social media and website passwords?

Yes. It’s always a good idea to change passwords regularly anyway. I just have so many, I’m not sure where to start.
No. From what I’ve read, companies are still trying to figure out how to fix the flaw. The bad guys will just have access to my NEW passwords, too.
Not sure, but I blame Al Gore. He invented the Internet, right? How’s he going to get us out of this mess?
     View Results