State rep weighs in on the Duquesne schools situation
Duquesne's assemblyman urged adults to be professional about efforts by court-ordered receiver Paul B. Long to save public education in Duquesne City School District.
“It's all about the kids,” state Rep. Marc Gergely, D-White Oak, said on Thursday. “We're going to have to roll up our sleeves and work with him.”
Gergely and Long each said they have had conversations.
One-time McKeesport Area school board president Gergely has represented Duquesne and the 35th Legislative District for 11 years.
Except for a short period after the dissolution last year of a state-appointed Board of Control, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has had direct control of the Duquesne district since 2000.
Gergely has not been happy about the situation that led to Long's appointment on Monday by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Judith L.A. Friedman.
“I wanted to see a community facilitator be the receiver,” Gergely said. “I just disagree with his being both the recovery officer and the receiver.”
Still, the White Oak Democrat said, “The judge ... can do a lot of things herself in terms of implementation. Maybe we will be encouraging her to make some tough decisions.”
He said Friedman “needs to continue a very stringent oversight of this implementation to make sure the voice of the community is heard.”
An education department spokesman declined comment about Gergely's remarks.
After Friedman's ruling, Long said, “We are going to have to make a real effort to reach out to the elected school board and the Duquesne community to help us through this process.”
Gergely has questioned the constitutionality of Act 141, the law Gov. Tom Corbett signed last year that established the category of “severe financial recovery” into which the distressed Duquesne district was placed by education secretary Ron Tomalis.
“I understand what Mr. Long is trying to do,” Gergely said. “The tools have been so limited for him to achieve what is necessary.”
However, Gergely isn't keen about a plan to voluntarily transfer Duquesne elementary students to another district, possibly Pittsburgh, at a tuition of $8,000 per student.
Long said on Monday that he is “working on that administratively” with Pittsburgh public school officials.
Those officials have confirmed talks are taking place, but made no additional comment since Monday.
“We're creating a transient class of students from Duquesne,” Gergely said, referring also to the mandated transfer of secondary school students to East Allegheny and West Mifflin Area.
The White Oak Democrat said he would prefer a situation that allows Duquesne students to “have roots and a foundation and build a dignity and a pride” in one location.
Gergely said he could not comment directly about Friedman's call for letters to legislators about increased funding of public education, as he wasn't in the courtroom.
“The legislature has to take on its financial obligations,” the judge said. “I can't see how long they can dodge that responsibility.”
But Gergely said he agrees with the idea of constituents writing to their lawmakers.
“I encourage folks to share their ideas with us,” the White Oak Democrat said. “Sometimes I disagreed with Gov. (Ed) Rendell, too.”
Through Long, Friedman's order continues direct state control of the Duquesne district, something that went on for more than a decade under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- East Allegheny teachers gather on picket lines, hope to end contract dispute
- Homestead to celebrate one of its own at jazz festival
- Flexible-use building in the works for Duquesne
- East Allegheny teachers to hit the picket lines
- East Allegheny School District teachers, board remain at odds over contract negotiations
- McKeesport Area, South Allegheny districts upgrade school security
- Festival of Hope bringing Mon-Yough churches together
- Steel Valley students to see plenty of changes this year
- Students’ use of iPads a minefield