New Castle News


October 21, 2013

New Castle Schools: District releases names in tuition probe

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle school district has released the names of employees who were the subject of a state audit finding.

The three staff members — Jamie Lynn DeMase of Neshannock Township, a teacher at Harry W. Lockley Kindergarten Center; Dinia Kollar of Pulaski, a third-grade teacher at Thaddeus Stevens Primary Center; and Kelly Glies of Neshannock Township, a second-grade teacher at West Side Primary Center — are the parents of children who lived outside the district but attended New Castle schools without paying tuition over a period of four years.

The tuition matter was raised by the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office in a final report of an audit covering Feb. 2, 2010, through Sept. 12, 2012.

The audit also included the district’s financial records for two additional years regarding the tuition matter, and it showed there had been seven non-resident children of district employees during that four-year time period for whom tuition had not been paid.

The auditors criticized the district for failing to obtain the required tuition and found both the Pennsylvania Public School Code and district policy had been violated.

As a result, the district must repay the state $110,664 for subsidy it had received for those students over the four-year period.

The state audit report, which was made public, did not include the names of the students or their parents.

Superintendent John J. Sarandrea said the employees are to pay the district the tuition owed and that an agreement between the two sides is in the process of being signed and finalized.

“The district is pursuing all rights and remedies for restitution,” he said in a prepared statement issued this week.

The statement also said the district has drafted a corrective action plan for the auditor general’s performance audit report, specifically regarding internal control weaknesses and violation of board policy that resulted in the loss of parent-paid tuition.

That action plan has not yet been approved by the school board.

The district has created the position of attendance officer, which will afford it the ability to investigate reported residency issues as well as truancy problems in kindergarten through 12th grades.

The board interviewed nine of 24 applicants and on Wednesday hired Richard Eagle Jr. of Harmony for the position. He will be paid $30,000 annually but no benefits.

As for sanctions imposed on the three employees, Sarandrea declined comment, saying all matters between the employer and employee remain confidential.

The New Castle News had filed an open records request with the district for the names of the parents, which district officials denied. The newspaper then appealed to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records.

A state appeals officer issued a determination last month, requiring the district to provide the employees’ names, but not their addresses or the students’ identities.

The district and the parents had 30 days to either appeal the determination to the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas or the district had to comply with it. None of the parties filed appeals and the 30-day window expired Tuesday.

DeMase, contacted Wednesday, deferred comment to her attorney, Louis Perrotta.

He said, “I’m not inclined to make any comment on the handling of the matter by the school district because of the underlying issues that are involved.”

He added his client chose not to pursue an appeal of the office of open records determination.

Attempts to reach Kollar and Glies have been unsuccessful.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

  • Shenango1.jpg Shenango Township: Supervisors fire Tanner, release DeLorenzo

    The Shenango supervisors fired township secretary/treasurer Brian Tanner and terminated auditor and consultant Deno DeLorenzo last night.

    July 18, 2014 3 Photos 4 Stories

House Ads

The Steelers opened training camp this weekend. How do you see them faring this season?

Super Bowl
Division champs
Wild card team
Missing playoffs for a third straight year
     View Results