Peters school board discloses name of fired employee

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The Peters Township School District has released the name of an employee who was fired by the school board last month after being ordered to do so by the state Open Records Office.

The school board on Monday also continued what is becoming something of an administrative exodus by accepting the resignation of another high-level employee.

Vincent Belczyk, district business manager and open records officer, said the employee fired by the board at an Oct. 15 meeting was bus driver Kimberly Joyce, who had previously been identified only as employee No. 332.

During the meeting and in a Right-to-Know request filed by a reporter afterward, the district declined to name Ms. Joyce, along with another employee who was fired at the same meeting for different reasons.

The Post-Gazette appealed the district's decision to the Open Records office, which determined that Ms. Joyce's name should be public record.

The Open Records office determined that it did not have jurisdiction to order the release of the other employee's name, because of an ongoing criminal investigation cited by the district. The newspaper is now seeking the name of that employee from the Allegheny County district attorney's office.

Ms. Joyce was terminated due to a violation of Section 514 of the Pennsylvania School Code, which allows districts to fire employees due to incompetency, intemperance, neglect of duty, violation of any of the school laws, or other improper conduct.

A phone number for Ms. Joyce could not be located.

During the same October meeting, the board appointed a new director of buildings and grounds without accepting a resignation or retirement from previous director Glenn Franceschina.

At the school board's meeting Monday, the board unanimously approved the resignation of Joyce Dahlstrom, director of transportation, and said it would soon begin seeking her replacement.

Ms. Dahlstrom is the fifth high-level employee to leave the district in as many months, following the resignation of district superintendent Nina Zetty and human resources director Nancy McCann in October, Mr. Franceschina's departure in the same month, and the June resignation of Tina Tolkacevic, director of special education.

In other matters, administrators said there were no plans to replace high school football coach Rich Piccinini. More than a dozen parents and football players turned out at the school board meeting to encourage the board to retain the coach.

Mr. Piccinini was appointed to a second season as the head coach earlier this year in a split vote among school board members, who said they were concerned that the coach was allowing some students to play with injuries, including concussions. Mr. Piccinini was cleared in a brief police investigation that followed.

After posting a 5-5 season, players and parents said Mr. Piccinini should be given more time to continue building the foundation for a successful team.

"As a parent, I feel lucky to have this coaching staff," Gretchen Corrado said. "They are putting our children first."

Acting swuperintendent Joseph Dimperio said that all coaching positions are opened each year, according to district policy.

"No decision has been made," Mr. Dimperio said, adding that he would make a recommendation to the board after hearing from the high school principal and athletic director. "There's no reason to be concerned at this point."

Also Monday, the board:

• Approved a new three-year contract with the Peters Township Service Employees International Union, representing 46 custodians and maintenance workers. Retroactive to Sept. 1, the new contract calls for raises of 25 cents per hour for long-term employees and salary hikes of 30 cents per hour for those hired more recently.

• Approved refinancing a $7 million bond issue, saving the district an estimated 5 percent, or $325,000. The district is taking advantage of interest rates of 1.1 percent, down more than 2 percent since the last refinancing in 2008.

education - neigh_south - neigh_washington

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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