Franklin Regional's Pavlik objects to 'overreaction' by state concerning child abuse
Franklin Regional officials adopted a new child-abuse reporting policy last week but not without objections from one school board member.
Dennis Pavlik objected to the changes — which are required by the state — because he said they took away any form of discretion that a school employee would have. The new policy requires all school staff to report any suspicion or report of child abuse, substantiated or not.
“Sometimes, we overreact. This is an overreaction to the Sandusky situation,” Pavlik said. “We run the risk of creating a permanent blemish that someone can't recover from.
“State law goes too far here — certain levels of discretion are gone, and I'm upset about it.”
Superintendent Emery D'Arcangelo assured Pavlik that an educator's reputation wouldn't be blemished unless there was “reasonable cause.”
The district first established a child-abuse policy in June 1998 and revised it in October 2007. Though the entire policy was rewritten, Pavlik most was concerned with changes that require immediate reporting. Among those changes is the elimination of a school investigation. Instead, staff must report any suspicions or incidents to an administrator, who must report the situation to police.
The onus for investigating falls onto law enforcement and an appointed agency, according to the policy.
“I understand we're between a rock and a hard place,” Pavlik said. “I just hate to see this go down as unanimous.”
The policy passed by an 8-1 vote.
Technology on tap
The board last week also approved a $640,500 technology budget for the 2013-14 school year. While the budget includes upgrades at all five buildings, each project will be reviewed before completed, board Vice President Joe Seymour said.
Among the items on tap for next school year are a project to transition 300 computers at the middle and high schools to a virtual system, and a project that would improve the wireless internet system at the district's three middle schools.
Board members, including Seymour, hesitated to approve a plan that included the upgrade and replacement of one of Heritage Elementary's two computer labs. Seymour said that lab was not meant to be a permanent fixture at the school.
Supervisor of technology Brad Schrecengost said leaving the project in the budget gives him the flexibility to look at other options for the lab.
“We could go a lot of different directions with that,” Schrecengost said. “There are a bunch of different ways we could work (on that lab).”
• The district accepted $398 in donations for its Fund-a-Meal program in March.
More than $250 were donated by Franklin Regional Education Association staff members. A $100 donation was made by Ethel Hall, and a $40 donation was made by an anonymous donor.
The program enables students who qualify for reduced meal prices under the federal free-and-reduced lunch program to receive their meal for free.
• The district also accepted a $3,108 donation from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County that will be used for the Bob and Rita Duffy Memorial Scholarship. The money was donated by friends, coworkers and families who knew the former district assistant principal and his wife who died in a car accident in February 2012.
The district will spent about $74,700 on two projects at the middle school — which is about $20,000 less than officials anticipated spending.
Work will begin in June on resurfacing the muddle school gym floor. The project will be completed by S&S Inc. of Pittsburgh. The company resurfaced the gym floor at Heritage Elementary five years ago and the gym floor at the high school last year. It has completed similar projects for Gateway, Woodland Hills and Valley school districts and at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. The floor has not been resurfaced in 22 years — maple floors typically are resurfaced every 10 to 12 years, director of district services Dennis Majewski said.
The project will cost $18,850.
Work on the roof over the administrative section of the middle school will begin this summer, as Strongland Roofing Systems of Vandergrift will begin the $55,867 project. Majewski said the contractor will be paid $43,300 for the project and the district will buy the asphalt for $12,567.
District employees have patched and repaired that section of roof several times during the last several years, Majewski said. It was installed in 1990.
Work will be completed by August, Majewski said.
The school board approved several resignations and appointments at its March 18 meeting.
• Three teachers and a school nurse will retire in June: Carol Schneider, high school French teacher; Christine Porter, high school math teacher; Jan Mori, high school gifted teacher; and school nurse Sandy Showman.
A fourth teacher, Mike Hursky, high school science teacher, will retire at the end of October.
• Heritage third-grade teacher Nicole Zollner will take a leave of absence from April 29 through the end of the school year.
• Bill Essay, sixth-grade teacher at the middle school, will take a sabbatical from March 15 through the end of the school year.
Four long-term substitute teachers were appointed through the remainder of the school year.
• Lacey Wagner, to teach third grade at Heritage
Bethanne Lenhart, to teach performing arts at the middle school
• Kaylee Dougherty, to work as a speech and language pathologist
• Annie Wozniak, to continue as a sixth-grade teacher at the middle school
Also, four substitute teachers were added to the substitute pool: Trina Klasnic at the elementary level and Joseph Myers, Teresa Carson and Susan Martin at the secondary level.