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Plum approves superintendent Tim Glasspool's resignation, $184,000 severance

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, 7:54 p.m.
Michael DiVittorio

Plum School District officials accepted Superintendent Tim Glasspool's resignation Tuesday night and approved a $184,000 severance package for him, much to the delight of several residents in attendance.

"I'm ecstatic. It's like I won the lottery," resident Karin Aquaviva said. She encouraged the board prior to their vote to take the deal and get Glasspool out of Plum.

"In the past few months, you have continuously voted against our children and the community," Aquaviva told the board. "Tonight, I implore you to put your personal agendas aside and do the right thing."

School directors voted 7-1 in favor of the deal offered to the district via a letter from Glasspool's attorney , Colleen Ramage Johnston.

Board President Kevin Dowdell was absent. Steve Schlauch dissented.

"The taxpayers shouldn't be left with the burden of paying this severance package," said Schlauch. "The superintendent made it known he doesn't want to be here.

"There's a right and wrong in life and principles do matter, at least to me. In my right conscience, I just really can't support this."

Other board members said their votes were to move the district forward.

"Our district has suffered far too long, and I am willing to vote for this agreement in order for our district, and our students and our community members to move forward," said Michele Gallagher.

District Solicitor Lee Price declined to talk specifics about the severance package, only "it is not the more expensive option" in the letter.

The letter cited continuing "antagonistic and hostile behavior" by school board members for Glasspool's departure.

The severance package proposed in the letter includes a year's salary of $157,600, plus $12,375 in compensation for sick days and $14,088 for unused vacation days.

Glasspool also gets family health, vision and dental benefits through June.

Had the resignation and the proposed severance been rejected Tuesday, Johnston had outlined other scenarios that she said would have been more costly, including a threat to sue the district and "various individual school board members for defamation, slander, breach of contract and violations of (Glasspool's) rights."

Johnston wrote that Glasspool would have resigned on Oct. 1, effective next April 1, making the district "contractually obligated to pay him a package worth approximately $438,180" if his resignation was not accepted Tuesday.

The superintendent has been under fire since a criminal teacher-student sex investigation came to light in 2015, shortly after his contract was extended for five years.

Three teachers, Joseph Ruggieri, Jason Cooper and Michael Cinefra, are serving prison sentences for having sex with students. A grand jury report blamed school administrators for passively allowing years of inappropriate conduct between teachers and female students.The district placed Glass­pool on leave in summer 2016, but he returned to his post in September 2016.

His lawyer submitted his letter of resignation last week while the superintendent was in China on a student exchange recruitment trip.

Glasspool was not at Tuesday's meeting and attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful. A cellphone number and an email address that Glasspool had used are apparently no longer in service.

The board in late February approved a similar agreement with former high school Principal Ryan Kociela . He resigned at the end of last school year.

That agreement was for $220,000, roughly two years of salary, in three installments in three fiscal years. It was in addition to his 2016-17 salary of nearly $111,000.

The board on Tuesday night unanimously voted to advertise the superintendent position and start a nationwide search for Glasspool's replacement.

It was unclear if assistant Superintendent Gail Yamnitzky would serve as acting superintendent until Glasspool is replaced.

Scandal settlement approved

Board members also unanimously approved a $300,000 settlement with one of the student victims in the sex scandal.

Price said the district will pay $225,000 via its insurance provider, Ohio Casualty, and the borough would pay the remaining $75,000 through its insurance.

No board members commented on the settlement.

In September 2016, a woman identified only as Jane Doe filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming that Plum school officials knew about allegations of sex abuse but did nothing for more than three years, allegedly allowing Ruggieri to keep preying on female students. The plaintiff said she was 17 when Ruggieri began having sex with her.

Ruggieri is serving a prison sentence of two to five years. He pleaded guilty in April 2016 to institutional sexual assault, corrupting a minor and intimidating a witness.

The district reached a tentative settlement with the former female student in July.

Plum Council unanimously approved its portion of the settlement earlier this month.

Borough Solicitor Bruce Dice said he instructed council not to comment on the matter, and declined to state how much the settlement was for or how it would be paid.

"Until the document has been signed by all of the parties to the case, there is no contract," Borough Manager Michael Thomas said via email in response to a Right-To-Know request filed by the Tribune-Review. "Once the document has been fully executed, it will be made available under the Right-to-Know law."

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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