Session reveals little new information on Kinavey
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The resumption of the termination hearing for former West Jefferson Hills superintendent Terry Kinavey two years after she was fired was supposed to uncover new information gleaned from electronic documents that the school district was ordered by Common Pleas Court to provide to her.
But the daylong event held Tuesday in the auditorium of Thomas Jefferson High School was a continuation of the tedious hearing that stretched over 15 days from January to May 2010 that was held before the school board that unanimously fired Mrs. Kinavey in September 2010.
Just two witnesses were called during the eight-hour hearing Tuesday -- school directors David Graham and Shauna D'Alessandro. And most of the questioning and testimony focused on the events surrounding the hiring of an English and reading teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School for fall 2009.
Mrs. Kinavey was fired after she was accused of not being forthcoming in her involvement in the hiring in which she initially blocked Jefferson Hills resident Denise Breisinger as a candidate and of plagiarizing letters sent to parents and staff in the fall of 2009.
Mrs. Kinavey removed Mrs. Breisinger's name from a hiring sheet to be presented to the board for the position of a high school English and reading teacher and later reposted the position as an English-only teacher to broaden the pool of applicants.
Following those actions, the board voted to suspend Mrs. Kinavey and to hire Mrs. Breisinger for the English position.
During Tuesday's hearing, Mrs. Kinavey's attorney, Ernest DeHaas, asked no questions about the plagiarism allegations. But he spent hours grilling Mr. Graham and Mrs. D'Alessandro on details about when Mrs. Breisinger became a candidate for the job, how much the board was involved in the process and how district solicitor Ira Weiss investigated the situation.
Most of what was said was a regurgitation of details that came out during the lengthy public termination hearing held in 2010. Unlike earlier sessions of the hearing, where most school directors attended, Anthony Angotti was the only board member to attend Tuesday's session.
The district's attorney, Stacy Vernallis, said school directors do not have to be present and can read the transcript of the proceedings.
A few more details about the public pressure put on the board in the form of emails and phone calls were revealed as was the fact that varsity football coach Bill Cherpak arranged a meeting between Mrs. Breisinger and Mrs. D'Alessandro after Mrs. Breisinger's name was removed from contention and the public furor over the issue began.
Mrs. Breisinger had been identified in earlier testimony as president of the high school football boosters group at the time she applied for the job.
In October 2010, about a month after she was fired, Mrs. Kinavey filed an appeal in Common Pleas Court asking for a new hearing.
The reopening of Mrs. Kinavey's hearing before the board was the result of a May 2011 order by Common Pleas Judge Alan Hertzberg who remanded the case back to the school board and ordered the district to provide Mrs. Kinavey with electronic documents, including emails, to which she claimed she was denied access. A resumption of the hearing was supposed to be based on new information garnered from the documents.
The district has spent about $50,000 to provide access to some 200,000 electronic documents.
Among the new emails discussed at the Tuesday hearing appeared to be those sent to board members protesting the fact that Mrs. Breisinger had not been hired for the original job posting and some emails between board members discussing the matter.
No other new information was presented in the case.
The hearing resumes at 9 a.m. today.
First Published October 11, 2012 4:54 am