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Plum High principal on leave will resign — with $220K

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, 10:27 p.m.
Plum High School principal Ryan Kociela.
Plum High School principal Ryan Kociela.

The Plum High School principal who was placed on administrative leave last year in wake of a sex scandal has resigned effective the end of this school year.

“He's not returning,” district Solicitor Lee Price said about Ryan Kociela at the end of a board meeting Tuesday night.

School directors voted 5-3 to approve an agreement with Kociela that pays him $220,000, roughly two years of salary, in three installments in three fiscal years.

The agreement is in addition to this year's salary of nearly $111,000.

Those in favor were board President Kevin Dowdell and board members Rich Zucco, Michele Gallagher, Jim Rogers and Michelle Stepnick.

School Directors Steve Schlauch, Vicky Roessler and Sue Caldwell dissented.

Price said Kociela will be on “paid sick leave” until his formal resignation July 1 and waives remaining vacation, personal and sick days.

“We cannot get into discussing the nature of his problems,” said Price about the sick leave.

Kociela did not attend Tuesday night's meeting and could not be reached by phone for comment.

“I do not agree with the language in this proposed agreement,” Schlauch said. “By accepting this agreement, it essentially makes one a scapegoat and ensures that no accountability will ever be accepted by anyone of authority at Plum Borough School District. This is unacceptable as the students, the district, and the Plum community deserve better.”

Roessler echoed Schlauch's sentiments.

“I don't agree with the financial terms and don't agree with the language,” she said. “For the record: I don't agree Mr. Kociela should be the only one no longer employed with the district.”

Gallagher expressed disappointment with the deal, but voted in favor “in order for our district and our community to move forward.”

Stepnick agreed. She called the past few years “extremely emotional and challenging.”

“The district isn't an administration, it's our students,” Stepnick said. “And it's time to put this behind our community and move forward.”

Kociela was placed on leave a few days after the May 19 release of a grand jury report that blamed school administrators for passively allowing years of inappropriate conduct between teachers and female students.

Superintendent Timothy Glasspool also was placed on paid administrative leave last May, but was returned by the board to his job Sept. 27.

Roessler voted against Glasspool's reinstatement.

According to the 100-page grand jury report, district administrators turned “a blind eye to obvious signs of teacher misconduct.”

Teachers Michael Cinefra, Jason Cooper and Joseph Ruggieri all pleaded guilty to having sex with students and are serving prison time. A fourth teacher was found not guilty of witness intimidation related to one of the assaults last year.

The Tribune-Review submitted a Right to Know request Feb. 21 seeking the amounts paid to Kociela and Glasspool while on leave, as well as any other contract information for both administrators.

District officials invoked a 30-day extension to supply the information Tuesday afternoon. They cited a legal review of the request, and timely response could not be accomplished due to staffing limitations, they said.

The board on Jan. 27, 2015, voted to extend Glasspool's contract by five years.

His 2015-16 school year salary was $142,600 and has built-in raises in each of the five years of his contract. His salary was set to automatically increase by $10,000 at the beginning of this school year.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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