Town hall meeting being planned to discuss Penn Hills School District, grand jury report
A town hall meeting is being planned for later this month to discuss the recently released grand jury report of Penn Hills School District finances and related topics.
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s office is organizing the public forum. Official date, time and location have not been announced.
It’s expected to take place within the municipality by the end of February.
“I want to give members of the community a chance to be heard and share ideas that could move Penn Hills forward and keep the focus on educating students,” DePasquale said. “Major decisions are being made that impact the entire community, and I want to hear directly from the people who are most affected.”
The grand jury, convened by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., worked for more than two years and came up with no indictments.
Its report states the district jeopardized the education of its students and overburdened taxpayers for decades by what the report called “egregious” overspending, “inexcusable” carelessness and “inept” decision-making rife with the appearance of impropriety.
“My 2016 audit of Penn Hills, which prompted the grand jury probe, found a shocking level of mismanagement and lack of oversight that led to the district’s enormous debt problem,” DePasquale said. “Although the grand jury did not recommend criminal charges, it agreed that the decisions made by former district leaders have had a disastrous impact on the district and the community.”
State Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills, said he supports the idea of a town hall meeting, but is unsure it will have any impact on the district.
“What’s it going to accomplish?” DeLuca said.
The grand jury recommended that state lawmakers write new legislation and strengthen regulatory oversight and interventions of school districts that take on large amounts of debt.
DeLuca said he plans to work with his colleagues in Harrisburg to address that and legislative recommendations mentioned in the report.
School board President Erin Vecchio said she hopes more people attend the town hall meeting than recent school board meetings.
“It would benefit all of us if they would come so we could get the state to see that we’re not going to stand for this,” she said. “I had three people at the (January) finance committee meeting. I’m encouraging people to come to this meeting so they can get the facts. The grand jury report did not have all the facts.”
More information about the proposed town hall meeting is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, email@example.com or via Twitter .