Pittsburgh Public School board voted to require members to file child abuse clearances

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In an unusual move, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board Wednesday night voted to require its members to file the same criminal and child abuse clearances as employees do.

City school solicitor Ira Weiss said he knows of no other district boards that require this.

"This is clearly a strong statement by the board," he said.

The Pittsburgh board voted 8-0 in favor of a motion made by board member Mark Brentley Sr. Member Sharene Shealey, who was present for most of the meeting, was absent for the vote.

Mr. Brentley said he had made a similar proposal five years ago but had been unsuccessful.

The new proposal came a week after the board accepted the resignation of school police officer Robert Lellock, who was charged with nearly two dozen counts of sex crimes stemming from former students' accusations that he sexually assaulted them at school.

The clearances will be good for three years. The measure also calls for those who run for school board beginning in 2013 to get clearances before they assume office.

The clearances will be part of the members' financial disclosure records at the solicitor's office.

As to what would happen if a member did not pass the clearances, Mr. Weiss said there is no provision for members to be able to remove other members from the board for that reason. However, board members are to be of good moral character, and a challenge by the district attorney or the state attorney general could be a possibility.

"Enforcement is one of those issues that will have to be worked through if and when it comes up. Hopefully it won't, but it could," said Mr. Weiss.

The clearances will be done at district expense. The district already pays for clearances for employees.

It also already requires clearances for volunteers as well as for those seeking to use the buildings for group activities.

education - breaking

Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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