West Jefferson Hills removes D'Alessandro as board's first vice president

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West Jefferson Hills school board Tuesday removed Shauna D’Alessandro as first vice president of the board, a move that board President Anthony Angotti described as “nothing more than the board holding its members accountable for their actions.”

The removal came one week after Mrs. D’Alessandro was removed as chairwoman of the finance committee and board member Marianne Neel was removed as chairwoman of the education/technology committee at the behest of the board.

The vote Tuesday to remove Mrs. D’Alessandro as first vice president was 7-2, with Mrs. D’Alessandro and Mrs. Neel dissenting.

The vote was taken after board member Darlene Schreiber read a prepared statement at the meeting that said Mrs. D'Alessandro had violated the values of the district.

When Anita Barkin, a member of the audience, asked for examples of Mrs. D'Alessandro's infractions, Mr. Angotti said she had told a news reporter how many administrators had supported the choice of Christopher Sefcheck as high school principal. Mr. Sefcheck was hired last month. Mr. Angotti said that information had been discussed in a private session.

He also said Mrs. D'Alessandro and Mrs. Neel met with District Judge Guy Reschenthaler in July to talk about a possible truancy prevention program for the district and did not share information from that meeting with the board or with district superintendent Michael Panza.

Mrs. Neel was chairwoman and Mrs. D'Alessandro was a member of the education/technology committee, which was assigned the truancy program.

“The board operates up front and open,” Mr. Angotti said Tuesday. “It is not handled by one or two.”

Mrs. D'Alessandro called the charges “trumped up” and said a conversation she had with the legal department of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association confirmed that none of her actions were violations.

Mrs. Neel said the discussion with the district judge was not a “meeting” and that the attorney she spoke with said it was permitted.

Mrs. D’Allesandro and Mrs. Neel, each a former board president, were stripped of their committee chairmanships by Mr. Angotti last week at the behest of the board.

Mrs. Neel also objected to Mr. Angotti removing an item from the Tuesday agenda to have the board authorize her to represent the district as a delegate to a PSBA conference in October, attributing the removal to the “political goals of a small group of people.”

Mr. Angotti blamed a lengthy agenda. The board later voted 5-4 to approve Mrs. Neel’s attendance at the conference.

After Mrs. D'Alessandro was removed as first vice president, second Vice President Carolyn Bourgeois was elected first vice president and Alan Caponi was elected second vice president. Both votes were 7-2, with Mrs. D’Alessandro and Mrs. Neel dissenting.

Mrs. D’'Alessandro said after the meeting that she plans to “continue to do my best to serve the district taxpayers and students.”

In another matter, the community construction committee for the new high school will meet with the board at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Thomas Jefferson High School cafeteria. The public is invited.

Deborah Pozycki, chairwoman of the committee, said the committee’s draft is for a 270,000-square-foot building, compared with the current 205,000-square-foot high school, which would raise the projected cost from $74.9 million to $85 million. The final decision rests with the board.

As part of the new high school project, the board approved a geotechnical study for $57,144 and a traffic study around the existing high school for $11,500.

The board also hired Maureen Meehan of Mt. Lebanon as director of human resources, effective Tuesday through June 30, 2017, at a prorated annual salary of $85,000.

It voted to increase the pay rate for day-to-day substitute teachers from $80 to $85 per day for the first 20 days and $100 per day for the 21st day and beyond.

Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

First Published August 27, 2014 1:00 PM

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