Irate residents want answers from Schmotzer, board
They want answers.
Nearly 100 residents attended the Dec. 18 Baldwin-Whitehall School Board meeting, and many of them pleaded with board members to explain their actions in recent months.
Residents who have attended the final three meetings of 2013 in force said they want to know why the majority of the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board hired one of its own to a high-paying administrative job moments after he resigned from the school board on Nov. 19.
“We are totally disjointed. This is a ‘we' ‘they,' this is a ‘us' against ‘them.' What's missing here is accountability,” Baldwin Borough resident Jerry Pantone said. “What's missing here is an apology. What's missing here is an explanation. Can anybody explain what happened that night to the satisfaction of the people in this audience?”
Residents attending the Dec. 18 meeting got into a heated exchange with board member Martin Michael Schmotzer as they asked him and his colleagues why he was appointed on Nov. 19, in a 7-1 vote, to a job as supervisor of special projects for the board of school directors and special assistant to the superintendent — with a $120,000 annual salary. Schmotzer, 57, of Whitehall, two weeks into the administrative job, resigned and that same day, Dec. 4, was sworn in to serve a new, four-year term on the school board.
Whitehall resident Brian Rampolla called the board's actions a “craftily executed maneuver.”
“I'm sure it was done right up against the legal line but way, way over the ethical line. Somehow, some way, we'll get to the bottom of exactly what happened, and we'll demand accountability,” he said.
Residents said they want to know why the board hired Schmotzer for the job.
“Without those answers, we're not going to be able to move forward here as a community,” Pantone said.
Schmotzer responded by calling out residents and speakers in the audience by name and stating that many had lost an election and that residents were not talking about district issues. He got into a heated exchange with several residents.
“Get elected to the school board,” Schmotzer shouted.
“We're done,” board President Larry Pantuso said, as he stopped the exchange.
Board Vice President Diana Kazour defended her vote and said the assistant-to-the-superintendent job was not to oversee Superintendent Randal Lutz.
“The position was for maintenance problems not being done right. He makes sure it's done right,” Kazour said. “We have cleaning problems at the high school. People complain that the restroom wasn't clean enough.”
The job would oversee the “people who clean,” said Kazour, who also addressed money issues in the district.
“I don't care if it's Marty or David or Smith. We need the job to be done, the right person for the right job,” Kazour said.
Schmotzer said problems in the district, such as a broken French drain, need to be fixed.
“If you're happy with it, then God bless you,” Schmotzer said. “I'm not happy with it.”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
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.
- Baldwin-Whitehall school board president sets new rules
- Grant will help pay for school resource officer at Pleasant Hills schools
- Talks continue for new Brentwood EMS contract
- Pleasant Hills council OKs tax hike, fee changes
- Officials pressed for decision on Brentwood borough building
- Final Brentwood budget approved
- Rules aim to bring consistency to Brentwood police force