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Principal out over financial 'irregularities'

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Sister Mary Norbert Long

Greensburg Central Catholic's principal has been let go by the Diocese of Greensburg, and school parents are outraged at the move.

The Rev. Larry Kulick, vicar general of the diocese, said in a statement to parents that “financial irregularities discovered by the diocesan finance office” led to an independent audit and the severance of Denise Myers as principal of the junior-senior high school in the Carbon section of Hempfield.

Myers is not charged with a crime. Diocese spokesman Jerry Zufelt said on Thursday afternoon that the findings have not been turned over to police.

Myers' attorney, Michael Healey, could not be reached on Thursday night.

An interim administrator will be taking over on Wednesday.

Kulick's statement released to the media on Thursday indicated that an independent auditing firm conducted a forensic audit of “school financial accounts,” which apparently confirmed the findings of an internal audit.

Myers was placed on administrative leave with pay on Sept. 23. Myers and Healey met with diocesan officials on Tuesday to respond to the allegations.

Many parents and a former co-worker spoke out in support of Myers Thursday after learning of her severance. Most balked at the allegations of financial improprieties and expressed frustration with administrators.

Kelly Lazzara of Greensburg said the allegations are “exaggerated.”

“They are making it look like she did something wrong,” said Lazzara, alumna of Greensburg Central, former dean of the junior-senior high and parent of two students.

Ben Wallace of North Huntingdon called Myers a good person with “a ton of integrity.”

“I would still be shocked ... if she did anything that goes beyond a technical error,” said Wallace, who has a son attending the high school.

Chris Kepes, a 2013 Central graduate, said he believes Myers' departure is the result of “bullying” and politics.

“That school was her pride,” said Kepes, who is now a college freshman.

Parents, students and alumni have participated in two prayer services for Myers since she was placed on leave. Fundraising efforts are afoot to aid in the former principal's legal bills.

“There's something special about Central and it really is due to Denise,” said Anne Stegman of Unity, mother of two graduates and a freshman.

A strict disciplinarian, Myers was respected by students, parents said.

“She wanted every student to know the alma mater ... and she had a big vision for how she wanted Central to be,” said Susan Catalano of Penn Township, parent of a senior.

Sister Mary Norbert Long will serve as interim administrator for Greensburg Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School beginning Wednesday, according to the statement. The diocese will assess the needs of the school and search for a permanent principal, it said.

Long is the first councilor and provincial treasurer for the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill for the U.S. province. She has been a teacher, principal and superintendent during her career, the statement said.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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