Steeel Valley school director's work raises issue with board

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Steel Valley school Director Joe Ducar was on the hot seat at Tuesday's school board workshop meeting for supplying food to parents and students through his business during a literacy camp this summer.

He defended himself by saying he did so at the request of district officials. Mr. Ducar said he was asked to provide the lunches two days before the luncheon date.

A luncheon for students and parents was held at the end of each camp. The literacy camps were paid for with the district's Keystone to Opportunity grant.

"I just don't think it's good business to have board members do private business with the school district," said board member Donna Kiefer, who was questioning the $1,500 expense for the luncheons on a district invoice list. Board members did not dispute that Mr. Ducar was asked to provide the luncheons.

Mr. Ducar is the owner of Duke's Upper Deck Cafe in Homestead.

Solicitor Donald Fetzko said school directors can engage in contracts with school districts of less than $500, or engage in business with districts if they have submitted the low bid in a bid-letting process. He would not comment on the appropriateness of Mr. Ducar's action.

When school Director Mike Terrick arrived at the meeting later, he also questioned his colleague's work for the district, and said Mr. Ducar should have asked the State Ethics Commission if it was appropriate first.

Ed Colebank, director of academics, information and technology, said the district will contact other food vendors if the literacy camp is held next summer.

"We try to spread it around to all the taxpayers and stakeholders with businesses in the area," Mr. Colebank said.

education - neigh_south

Anne Cloonan, freelance writer:


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