Recovery officer asks 11 districts to take Duquesne students

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Superintendents of 11 area school districts have received an email from Duquesne Chief Recovery Officer Paul B. Long notifying them they will be asked to consider voluntarily taking some of the Duquesne students in grades K-6 for the 2013-14 school year and beyond.

Mr. Long, on Monday, released his recovery plan for the district which recommended sending Duquesne's remaining 440 students in grades K-6 to nearby districts via voluntary agreements with those districts. At the release of the plan, he did not specify which districts would be approached to take the students at a proposed tuition of $8,000 per student.

But on Tuesday he sent an email to the superintendents of the Baldwin-Whitehall, Brentwood, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Gateway, Norwin, South Allegheny, South Park, West Jefferson, West Mifflin and Pittsburgh Public school districts notifying them to expect a formal proposal from him regarding the Duquesne students by March 1.

Attached to the email is a copy of his recovery plan.

"The central strategy of the recovery plan is to place K-6 students in school districts near Duquesne based on voluntary and mutually beneficial agreements between the receiving school districts and Duquesne," Mr. Long wrote in the email noting that the receiving districts would have to have capacity for the Duquesne students and that "tuition would have to be affordable to Duquesne."

Today Mr. Long said the purpose of the email to the superintendents was "to invite conversation and dialogue and discussion and ask for advice."

Currently Duquesne students in grades 7-12 attend either West Mifflin Area or East Allegheny school districts on a tuition basis, an arrangement that was mandated by state legislation in 2007, when Duquesne High School was closed. There currently is no state legislation that permits elementary students to be assigned to another district by mandate.

The Duquesne school board will meet on Feb. 21 to vote on Mr. Long's recovery plan. If the board approves the plan, it goes to state Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis for approval. Mr. Tomalis could request revisions. Once the plan has final approval by the secretary, Mr. Long will draft formal proposals to the districts he notified on Tuesday.

If the Duquesne board does not approve the recovery plan, the matter goes to Common Pleas Court where a receiver will be appointed to carry out the plan.

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Mary Niederberger:; 412-263-1590.


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