West Jefferson Hills halts process to discharge employee
The West Jefferson Hills School Board has rescinded a process it began in June to discharge a professional employee.
In a resolution approved by board members in an 8-0 vote on Aug. 13, district leaders indicated the employee has resigned and a confidential settlement was entered into, “effectively resolving all outstanding issues relating to the employee’s employment status in the district.”
Board member David Dominick was absent from the specially scheduled meeting.
District leaders still are refusing to provide the name of the employee.
Neither the motion nor the resolution name the employee.
Katherine Janocsko, an attorney with Tucker Arensberg which represents the district, declined to provide the employee name or dollar amount of the settlement following the Aug. 13 meeting. She also would not comment on if the employee was included on the meeting’s list of personnel actions, which included resignations.
“It’s a confidential settlement,” she said.
When asked for a copy of the settlement, Janocsko said the Trib could submit another Right-to-Know request for the document.
When asked what the district would say to parents who want to know details about the settlement and employee, she said, “if they want to know, they’ll have to submit a Right-to-Know request.”
Superintendent Michael Ghilani and board President Brian Fernandes declined to comment.
The resolution withdraws a “statement of charges” approved by board members on June 25 that provided for the employee’s discharge.
Per Pennsylvania Public School Code, a school district is required to provide a professional employee with permanent tenure facing dismissal with “a detailed written statement of the charges upon which his or her proposed dismissal is based.”
The Trib filed a Right-to-Know request under the state’s Open Record Act on June 26, seeking the name of the employee and statement of charges filed against the person.
After seeking the allowed 30-day extension under the law to respond to the request, the district’s open record’s officer Tracy Harris responded to the Trib on Aug. 2 denying the statement of charges.
She indicated in the written response that “the statement of charges is a record relating to discipline and is exempt from disclosure” from the Right-to-Know law.
In the request for the employee’s name, she directed the Trib to the district website, where “District employee names, including the name of the employee served with the statement of charges, are available,” the response said.
The district also denied the request for both, citing the employee’s rights to privacy.
The Trib is appealing the denial of both counts to the Office of Open Record.
The Trib also has filed a Right-to-Know request with the district seeking a copy of the settlement agreement.