North Versailles library board axes director and assistant
By Eric Slagle
Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013, 5:21 a.m.
The director of the North Versailles Public Library and his first assistant have been fired by the library's board of trustees.
Director Michael Kowalcheck and Karen Schmidt-Ramsey were notified on Wednesday, the same day a story appeared in The Daily News about the board of trustees demoting Schmidt-Ramsey from children's librarian to clerk.
Trustees Mary Ann Fetsick and Sharon Dunbar, accompanied by three township police officers, arrived at the library about 15 minutes before it closed at 4 p.m. to notify Kowalcheck that he has been fired.
Kowalcheck, who has worked for the library since 1994 and has been director since 2001, said the trustees gave him a letter that said, “You have not been following instructions and directions of the board and therefore we are terminating your employment immediately.”
“I told them, ‘You don't need the police officers,'” Kowalcheck said.
He said Fetsick left with two of the officers, but Dunbar and one officer remained while he gathered his personal belongings.
“I guess they were making sure I wouldn't take anything,” he said.
It was unclear on Wednesday night if the library would open on Thursday. Only one other part-time employee is on the payroll.
Fetsick, who is the township tax collector, and Dunbar, who works in the tax office, could not be reached for comment.
When questioned Tuesday about Schmidt-Ramsey's demotion and her five-hours-per-week schedule reduction, Fetsick said only that it was related to the trustees' lack of an adequate description of her job duties.
Kowalcheck said there have been some differences between staff and the trustees, mostly related to questions of library bylaws. He said he tried to schedule a meeting with the Allegheny County Library Association to examine some of the issues but the meeting never happened.
He said questions had arisen regarding conflicts of interest and the qualifications of some library trustees. Kowalcheck said he notified the library association of the firings via email on Wednesday afternoon.
Schmidt-Ramsey declined to comment. Her husband, Kevin Ramsey, said Dunbar called his wife on Wednesday while she was on vacation and told her she was fired.
“To get this slap in the face like this is just unreal,” he said.
Schmidt-Ramsey was employed by the library for eight years.
The library's seven-member board of trustees is appointed by commissioners.
Township commissioner Sam Juliano said news of the firings took him by surprise.
He said he met with Fetsick on Wednesday to discuss plans for an upcoming community day when she told him about the firings, but didn't elaborate.
“I was shocked to hear this,” said Juliano, who said Fetsick told him it was a personnel matter and that trustees would share the details with commissioners later.
“I really don't know much to report to you on the situation,” Juliano said.
Juliano said Schmidt-Ramsey contacted him on Friday about meeting with him and board of commissioners president George Thompson to discuss problems at the library, and that he was planning to arrange one.
“We're definitely going to be looking into the matter,” said Juliano, who said he's been getting calls from township residents about library programs that were cut when Schmidt-Ramsey's was demoted.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, 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.
- Oakmont father-son team’s efforts help add Mon Valley names to police memorial
- McKeesport man wanted in shooting nabbed in Elizabeth Township
- McKeesport crews prep for new KaBOOM! playground
- Serra Catholic High School friary to house foreign students
- McKeesport student to celebrate Jackie Robinson’s legacy
- 5 Operation Pork Chop defendants sentenced to 5 years probation
- Markosek supports McCord for governor
- Steel Valley Bicycle Tour will raise funds for trail maintenance
- East Allegheny counselors receive national recognition
- Crews fill Duquesne sinkhole
- Officials in North Versailles fed up with littering