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Panza welcomed as new West Jefferson Hills superintendent

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 7:13 a.m.

West Jefferson Hills welcomed a new superintendent and authorized two high-profile personnel changes at Thursday's school board meeting.

“We turn the page on a new chapter in our district,” board president Anthony Angotti said in reference to Superintendent Michael Panza.

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you and the students of this district,” Panza said.

The board eliminated the position of communications consultant Mimi Haley and opened varsity high school baseball coach Kevin Gryboski's job.

Solicitor Ira Weiss said Gryboski's situation is a personnel matter. District officials confirmed that it stems from a post-game incident last season.

Teacher Gregg Fouts, a former coach, said the district is treating Gryboski differently than it did his predecessor Richard Krivanek, who had been coach for the previous four years.

“He admitted his mistake, apologized and moved on,” Fouts said of Gryboski, who played for the Atlanta Braves and now lives in Peters Township. “He served a suspension. The other coach did not.”

PTA board member Suzanne Downer said Haley has kept residents informed “of everything from the vouchers to the needy children in this district.”

Downer hailed Haley's “loyalty, ability and importance” to the district.

Panza said social media such as Facebook has “not been used to its fullest potential” in the district.

“That is what we are going to employ as a district,” the superintendent said.

Panza brings 14 years of experience as top administrator in Moniteau in Butler County, where he now serves as a school director, and at the Carlynton and Sto-Rox districts.

His arrival removes a cloud that has hung over the district since Superintendent Terry Kinavey was suspended in September 2009 over the removal of a teacher's name from a list of recommended hirings.

The school board conducted a series of hearings, then fired Kinavey in September 2010. She has fought the decision in the courts, but a resolution is unlikely before June 30, when Kinavey's five-year contract will expire.

Kinavey's attorney told the South Hills Record in May that his client likely would be entitled only to back pay if a court ruled in her favor.

Panza technically was hired as acting superintendent, at a per-diem rate of $576.92, until his contract takes effect on Monday.

The board accepted the resignation of Linda Hippert, who has been acting superintendent since September while continuing as executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.

“We thank her for her service to the district and for her commitment,” Angotti said.

Acting Assistant Superintendent Hamsini Rajgopal is returning to full-time duty as the district's human resources director.

The board's next scheduled meeting is Aug. 20.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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