West Jefferson Hills board holds ground in Kinavey decision

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Nearly three years after voting to fire Superintendent Terry Kinavey, West Jefferson Hills School Board members have said they're sticking with their decision.

Board members in a 6-0 vote last week approved a resolution reaffirming Kinavey's Sept. 28, 2010, termination. She had been accused of misleading them and plagiarizing documents prior to being fired.

Kinavey is challenging her termination in court.

Board members David Graham and Darlene Schreiber and Vice President Shauna D'Alessandro abstained from last week's vote.

“At its essence, what this case is about is whether the district should be compelled to employ as its superintendent of schools a person that is dishonest with the board about matters pertaining to the administration of this district and passes off work of others as if it's her own,” the resolution states. “It is inconceivable that section 1080 of the Public School Code would require that to happen.”

Kinavey's lawyer, Ernest DeHaas, declined to comment on Monday. He said he had yet to receive the resolution from district officials.

Kinavey was suspended from the district in 2009 after residents questioned her removal of long-term substitute teacher Denise Breisinger's name from a hiring list.

She was fired in September 2010 after testimony and an initial termination hearing that lasted 15 sessions in which district officials presented evidence they said showed she violated district procedures, as well as plagiarized materials and speeches.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alan Hertzberg sent Kinavey's termination appeal back before the school board to hear additional testimony.

During the remand hearings, it was confirmed that emails were sent in the district that included Breisinger on a list of teachers to be hired and an email was sent to her congratulating her on being hired, the resolution states.

These emails opened on Kinavey's desktop in 2009, while district leaders were investigating the removal of Breisinger's name from the hiring list, according to the resolution. Kinavey never disclosed this information to board members, it states.

Instead, she testified that what she viewed from her computer, through a CD, was “gobbledygook,” the resolution states. That would have been the case only if she viewed the emails from outside of the district server, it says.

The resolution also clarifies the board's previous decision to name director of human resources Hamsini Rajgopal as the district's acting assistant superintendent to state that this was not a reward for any testimony she offered.

Board members, in a separate motion last week, accepted Rajgopal's resignation from the district. She said she is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

S tephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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