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Steel Valley students petition board to reinstate substitute teacher

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 7:20 a.m.

Steel Valley High School senior Julie Robson on Tuesday night presented the school board with a petition containing 528 signatures, asking that Alan Francis be given back his substitute teaching position.

She said the signatures are from students, family, alumni and community members.

“There also are 110 comments within that petition,” Julie said. “They're all involving how Mr. Francis has been nothing but a positive influence on the school.”

She questioned school directors and administrators about why Francis was fired.

“It's a personnel matter,” solicitor Don Fetzko said. “Under law we're not allowed to talk about personnel matters. And I don't believe he was fired.”

“He's not in school,” Julie said. “He's not teaching. He's not there for students as he should be. As far as I'm concerned, that was taken away from him for something I believe is very unjust.”

She asked that the superintendent and school board reconsider allowing Francis to substitute in the district.

Francis, of West Mifflin, said he has worked as a substitute at Steel Valley schools almost every day for seven years until district staff stopped calling him approximately a month and a half ago. He said he had to call the district to find out why he no longer was not being asked to substitute.

“A comment was made that it was because of what I said online,” Francis said. “They didn't say what I said or who I said it to.”

Just before district staff stopped calling him, he said, he subbed for an algebra teacher for two weeks.

“I hope to come back,” he said.

Francis does not belong to the teachers union.

Fetzko said the school board will consider the petition in executive session, but it cannot discuss personnel in public.

The petition was started online at www.change.org.

Steel Valley graduate Trish Douglass wrote, “Mr. Francis was such a positive influence on me as a student at SVHS. To hear about him being fired angered me, but most importantly broke my heart.”

“I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Alan Francis in the Steel Valley School District for six years,” former district teacher Marguerite Luvara wrote.

“In that amount of time, Alan displayed dedication, compassion, as well as guidance to the students that he taught. He always remained professional and without reproach.”

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com.

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