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Mediator to hear debate on status of Greensburg Salem administrator

| Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Greensburg Salem School District and administrator Lisa Rullo have turned to a third party and nonbinding mediation in an attempt to settle her employment dispute, parties involved in the talks said on Friday.

The first session will be held on Feb. 21.

“I'm looking at it that we come to a resolution,” Superintendent Eileen Amato said. “What that resolution is, I'm not sure.”

Charles Steele, Rullo's attorney, said he views mediation as two parties making the effort to find a solution.

“I look at it very positively,” he said. “Mediation can be very helpful because a new set of eyes is looking at both positions.”

In this case, the mediator can make suggestions but not dictate what the parties do, Steele added.

“The mediator only has the power of persuasion, not to rule,” he said.

Steele declined to say whether a mediator has been selected, adding that mediation is done in private.

Rullo has been away from her $134,996-a-year job as director of student and district services since last spring. The school board approved two sabbatical leaves for her for health restoration, and she has accrued sick time to use.

School district attorney William Andrews did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

“I think that everyone is just anxious to get to a resolution so we can focus on education in the district,” Amato said.

More than 75 people packed a school board meeting last week and presented a petition that was critical of Amato and “a couple” of unnamed school directors, who, it said, “lost sight of their ethical and legal responsibilities.”They further criticized the amount of taxpayer money being spent over matters related to Rullo.

So far, the district has paid nearly $28,500 to Andrews or his firm for matters related to Rullo, district officials said. Other invoices may be forthcoming, they said.

During a meeting on Jan. 10, attorneys discussed a proposal to have a third party settle the dispute, Rullo wrote on her Facebook page that day.

Two hearings were held in November in an attempt to demote Rullo to an associate principal position at the high school. District officials canceled a third session scheduled in December.

Rullo took the rare step of demanding her demotion hearings be held in public.

Amato was the only witness to testify before the hearings ended.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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