The board of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program Wednesday gave board member Franco Harris a vote of confidence and passed a motion for him to return as board chairman.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl had criticized Mr. Harris last month for his support for his college football coach, Joe Paterno, after Mr. Paterno was fired by Penn State University in the wake of a sex scandal there centered around former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The mayor said Mr. Harris' support for his coach showed "no regard whatsoever" for the alleged victims of sexual abuse.
Mr. Harris stepped down as chairman of the Promise board during a Nov. 17 meeting, but remained a board member. David Malone, president and CEO of Gateway Financial Services, was named acting chairman.
On Wednesday, at the continuation of that meeting, members voted for Mr. Harris to return as chairman.
In a news release, Mr. Malone said Mr. Harris' personal opinion on the Penn State situation shouldn't negate the work he has done for the Promise.
"The board acknowledges that Franco's service to The Pittsburgh Promise has been exemplary and we appreciate and applaud his significant contributions to the success of this nationally recognized program," Mr. Malone said.
In a statement released late Wednesday night, the mayor said: "I believed very strongly that Mr. Harris' public comments showed an insensitivity towards the children who were sexually abused. That insensitivity did not align with The Promise's principles and mission and as a founder of this scholarship program I did what I believed was right, not what was necessarily popular, by bringing this matter to the board.
"The Promise restores hope and confidence to thousands of young people, many of whom are at-risk youths, and as board chair Mr. Harris's public statements should have put the health and safety of our kids ahead of his loyalty to any coach," the mayor added.
" ... it has become clear that Mr. Harris is now more sensitive to these very serious issues. ... This matter is now behind us and we will continue the good work that all of us do every day to advance higher education for Pittsburgh's children."
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The charity linked to the Penn State University abuse scandal says it is laying off some employees.
The Second Mile was founded in 1977 by Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of molesting 10 boys he met through the charity's programs.
The charity said in a statement Wednesday that it has lost significant financial support and that some employees will be laid off over the next several months. It didn't say how many staffers would be cut.
The charity also says it is cooperating with the attorney general's investigation and will adhere to its legal responsibilities.
HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A central Pennsylvania college says former Penn State University assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was denied a volunteer coaching position last year because a background check revealed a high school was investigating him on sex abuse allegations later detailed by a grand jury.
Juniata College spokesman John Wall said Mr. Sandusky applied for the job in May 2010. The check revealed the existence of an investigation at Central Mountain High School.
Prosecutors say Mr. Sandusky abused a Central Mountain student while working there as a volunteer. That led to a grand jury investigation that ended with child sex abuse charges filed against him last month.
Juniata officials said Mr. Sandusky did not mention the investigation on application forms.