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Intermediate Unit serving Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties places chief exec on leave

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The head of the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the intermediate unit solicitor, officials said.

Executive Director Cecelia H. Yauger acknowledged Friday that she had been placed on leave and that part of the investigation at the unit, which serves school districts in Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties, involves the handling of information requests under the state's Right to Know Law.

“There's just been a series of events that we are reviewing,” Yauger said in a brief phone interview from her Grove City home. “It's best for me and for our organization until it's sorted out that I remain on leave.”

The board placed her on leave on March 27. Brenda Marino, an attorney who is the IU's human resources director, is overseeing operations, officials said.

Yauger referred additional questions to attorney Tim McNickle, the unit's solicitor, who is conducting an investigation. McNickle did not return multiple messages.

J. Dayle Ferguson, an IU board member representing the Mars Area school District, declined comment. Other board members could not be reached.

According to minutes of the March 20 intermediate unit board meeting, the board met in executive session for 30 minutes, and then hired Paul Lalley, of the law firm Campbell, Durrant, Beatty, Palombo and Miller, a Downtown law firm, as independent legal counsel. Lalley confirmed that the board had placed Yauger on leave, but declined further comment.

The intermediate unit serves thousands of students across 27 school districts in the three counties. It provides services and programs including special education, continuing education, curriculum, instruction and assessment, early intervention and human resources to students, school staff and the community.

Butch Santicola, a Pittsburgh spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said his union represents 187 members in the teachers' unit, 162 in the support staff unit, and six in the administrative unit, but does not represent Yauger.

Butler Area Superintendent Michael Strutt said Friday that the district hasn't seen an interruption in services to students.

“I trust it (the investigation) is being investigated properly, and whatever is going on, it will be resolved properly,” Strutt said.

He added that no agencies have contacted Butler Area seeking any records related to the intermediate unit.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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