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Pittsburgh school board fires former police chief

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By Bill Zlatos
Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 10:18 p.m.

The city school board fired former schools police chief Robert Fadzen on Wednesday night for neglect of duty and violation of state law.

The board dismissed Fadzen in an 8-0 vote, with Regina Holley abstaining.

Fadzen, 61, of Green Tree worked for Pittsburgh Public Schools for 17 years and was paid $90,000 a year.

“I'm obviously disappointed by the decision, and I want to thank the city of Pittsburgh for giving me the honor and the privilege of protecting and serving the children of Pittsburgh for 17 years,” Fadzen said when reached after the vote.

“After all his years in service, I wish him luck in his retirement and good health,” board President Sherry Hazuda said.

The vote culminated nearly 80 hours of testimony over eight hearings last winter presided over by hearing officer Carl Beard. The district complained that Fadzen had a history of exceeding his authority at traffic stops outside the jurisdiction of school police and using foul language with the public.

He followed an ambulance that he said was driving erratically near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on July 22, 2011.

The board removed Fadzen from his job in September and placed him on unpaid leave in November.

An 89-page board report cited a letter written by Georget Dudash, owner of the ambulance company, in which he described Fadzen's conduct as “road rage” and recommended he attend classes in anger management.

District officials also complained about Fadzen's ticketing of a Westwood man in Green Tree in 2005 and a student's weapons conviction, later overturned by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, when Fadzen and other school police found guns in his car.

In other business, the board voted not to extend the charter of the Career Connections Charter School in Lawrence–ville for five years.

The district's charter review team found that most of the school's students were not taking part in authentic internships, an important part of its mission, and that the school's performance on state math tests had declined.

In 2011, just 16.7 percent of the students scored proficient in math, compared with 46.2 percent in 2010.

Career Connections has 30 days to appeal the board's decision to the state.

The board also approved a transportation contract with 19 companies that will save the district more than $1.8 million over two years. The district renegotiated the contract and froze 3 percent rate hikes that would have taken place in the next two school years.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reachedat 412-320-7828 Staff writer Michael Hasch contributed to this report.

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