McKeesport Area teacher fired amid sex scandal returns to school
A McKeesport Area School District teacher who was fired in February 2011 amid a sex scandal is back on the job.
Angela DiBattista, a former Cornell Intermediate School fourth-grade teacher, reported for work on Monday, according to her attorney Philip Fabiano.
“This is something that she loves to do, wants to do, is good at it. She really wanted to go back, and she had that opportunity,” Fabiano said. “She told me she got all anxious and a little scared, and she gave some thought of turning around and going home, but she didn't.”
Wednesday was the first day of school for students.
“I don't think anyone was happier for the first day of school than Angela DiBattista,” Fabiano said.
Fabiano said DiBattista is a Title I math teacher.
District spokeswoman Kristen Davis said she cannot confirm when DiBattista was rehired, her title or anything regarding the situation, citing personnel matters.
“The district has no comment about it,” Davis said.
Two state courts ruled that DiBattista was fired without cause for admitting she had sex with another teacher inside a classroom.
Commonwealth Court said testimony from the district and DiBattista's witnesses at a 2010 disciplinary hearing supported the conclusion that DiBattista was promised immunity for admitting her actions with Patrick Collins, a fellow teacher and a former McKeesport Area Education Association president.
Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer wrote, “The parties mutually intended that if (DiBattista) agreed to testify she would have no concern or fear that any district action would be brought against her as a result of such cooperation.”
State Supreme Court ruled in March to deny the district's appeal to reverse a 15-page decision from Commonwealth Court.
DiBattista was suspended from her teaching job at Cornell in January 2006.
Her hearing was scheduled for June 2006 but it was pushed back because of her health problems and scheduling delays.
In November 2006 Collins agreed to retire and accept a $53,000 settlement that included vacation time, sick days and insurance premium costs.
Neither state court answered the question of whether McKeesport Area had to rehire her. DiBattista reportedly worked outside the education field since her termination.
Fabiano said he received messages from DiBattista about her first day back in the district.
“She thought this day would never come,” Fabiano said. “That she wouldn't be able to go back and teach those kids. She texted that to me.”
Fabiano said the district has not compensated DiBattista for her losses, wages and pension benefits.
“We're working on trying to amicably resolve those issues,” he said.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.