Rullo backers question costs of job dispute for Greesnburg Salem
By Bob Stiles
Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 11:36 p.m.
Supporters of embattled Greensburg Salem administrator Lisa Rullo told the school board this week they are concerned about how much the employment dispute might cost the district in legal and other costs.
Audience members in the packed board meeting room on Wednesday questioned the hiring of a relative of the superintendent as a special education consultant.
Ken Dzialowski of Greensburg said he researched employment disputes similar to Rullo's and discovered they could cost the district at least $100,000 and last for several years on appeal.
“This could cost the taxpayers of this district a half-million dollars,” Dzialowski said, adding the money could be used elsewhere.
Taxpayers shelled out $40,176 as of late January for legal expenses to attorney William Andrews and solicitor John Scales for matters involving Rullo, according to district financial records.
District officials have proposed demoting Rullo from her $134,996-a-year job as director of student and district services to an associate principal position at the high school at a lesser salary.
A Feb. 21 session has been scheduled for a mediator to hear both sides of the dispute and possibly reach a settlement. The mediator's recommendation is not binding.
Except for two demotion hearings, held in public at Rullo's request, district officials have discussed her employment status in private on legal and personnel grounds.
Connie Mattei of Salem questioned why Ron Tarosky — Superintendent Eileen Amato's cousin — was hired as a special education consultant in Rullo's absence.
“I was surprised,” she said. “I really have to question your decision for a family member to be hired.”
Tarosky was hired last summer and has received $28,200 from July 22 — his first day on the job — to Jan. 31, according to district financial records.
Tarosky was hired to help Lisa Hauswirth, who began working in December as acting director of student and district services, with the transition to her new job, Director Richard Payha explained.
“We thought it was prudent to do that,” he said.
Hauswirth, a former elementary school principal, earns $119,222 annually.
The district needed a consultant who understands the intricacies of special education immediately, Amato said after the meeting. Her cousin, a former special education director in the Franklin Regional School District, could do that work on a limited-time basis, she added.
“The district was fortunate to have a local retired individual like Ron to fill in temporarily due to the void created in the special education office with the medical sabbatical of Lisa Rullo and the maternity leave of Lisa Hauswirth,” Amato said.
“Ron's expertise and reputation ... are well-known and respected throughout the state, and he accomplished many good things in his short time here,” she added.
Rullo began the first of two sabbatical leaves for health restoration in spring 2013.
Testimony during the two demotion hearings showed Amato did not formally reprimand Rullo prior to seeking her demotion, Terri Fontanazza of Greensburg said.
“To many, it just appears to be a way to sabotage her (Rullo),” Fontanazza added.
Jim Barbe of Salem discussed another persistent topic involving the district and school board — spiked pensions for retired administrators.
In an audit released in August, the state Auditor General determined nearly $141,000 in ineligible compensation was forwarded for retirement consideration, boosting the monthly pension checks of the administrators.
In their response to auditors, district officials said previous senior administrators ordered subordinates to include the ineligible income, even though the subordinates told them that doing so was against state pension regulations.
“Who is that person? Who are these people?” Barbe asked.
Amato said she could not name who ordered the employees because the issue has not been settled.
“Legally, we cannot do it,” she said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Unity airport steps up parking enforcement
- Quiet teacher shone as character actor
- Jeannette councilman charged after argument with city clerk
- System will allow video visits for inmates in Westmoreland
- Former Ligonier lawyer who stole from trust fund paroled
- Fayette commissioners move to limit comments
- Westmoreland County considers software upgrade
- West Newton fire company says debts paid
- Jeannette dirt bike rider collides with car
- Scottdale approves slight hike in park usage fees
- Derry Borough to buy dump truck