Franklin Regional appointment raises procedural questions
Franklin Regional officials met in private Monday to determine which of six applicants would be nominated to replace a resigning school board member.
Board President Herb Yingling announced that the board met in an executive session on Monday to “go over” the candidates for the board position vacated by the resignation of Joe Seymour.
All meetings involving the appointment or selection of a candidate to fill a vacancy in any elected position must be held in public, according to a 2006 revision of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act.
Board solicitor Jack Cambest justified the closed-door session by citing the 1994 case of Cumberland Publishers vs. the Carlisle Area Board of School Directors.
That case found that the board was permitted to discuss appointing a school board member in private if the vote was taken in public.
However, that ruling was superseded by changes to the Sunshine Act 1996, said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, a nonprofit, trade group in Harrisburg for media organizations.
“It's no longer good law,” Melewsky said. “The Sunshine Act was amended to prohibit the result that was reached in this case.”
Yingling said that the board acted on the advice of its solicitor when discussing the six candidates before placing Chuck Hergenroeder on the agenda for a vote. There was no public discussion on the matter.
Mary Bach, one of the candidates and a former school board member, was in attendance at the meeting and said she was disappointed that the board did not discuss the appointment in public. While she said she is pleased with Hergendroeder's appointment and thinks he will serve the community well, she said she wanted “thoughtful consideration” of the applicants.
“I'm very disappointed in the process and feel they violated the Sunshine law,” Bach said. “The choice had already been made. I thought the process was flawed.”
Cambest would not comment other than to cite “Cumberland vs. Carlisle.”
Cambest has been on retainer in the district as solicitor for several years. The board voted Monday to reappoint his firm — Cambest, Dodaro and Matta — as solicitor at the rate of $85 per hour.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627.
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.
- Couple responds to Delmont lawsuit
- Delmont council steers clear of tree dispute
- Coyotes a consistent, if unseen, neighbor in Murrysville
- Delmont police 2015 outlook: Hire a third full-time officer, new vehicle
- Franklin Regional to offer counseling sessions